Big 3 Have Another Big Quarter, Approaching Double-Digit Network Ad Gains

The Big 3 broadcast networks turned in another strong sales period during the second quarter of 2004, and through the first half were approaching double-digit growth in advertising revenues. All this before big bonanza events like the Summer Olympic Games on NBC, political ad buys and the series finales of "Friends" and "Frasier" kick in.

Combined advertising revenues for the ABC, CBS and NBC rose 7.7 percent over the second quarter of 2003, while first half revenues grew 9.2 percent, according to self-reported data compiled by Ernst & Young for the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association. The Big 3 dayparts, meanwhile, continue to be prime-time, late night and early morning news, with each delivering double-digit growth during the quarter and half. Daytime and news, conversely, continue to flounder, as marketers begin shifting network dayparts in pursuit of shifting demographic patterns. Daytime revenues fell 6.4 percent during the second quarter, while news sales dropped 2.0 percent. Part of the news sales declines may be attributed to the reclassification of some prime-time news magazines as "prime-time" programming.

Sports also remained a strong contributor during the first half, with a 7.9 percent jump, even before a third-quarter Olympics-related surge pushes the daypart into high gear.

Q2, First Half '04 Network TV Ad Sales

  
---------Q2 '04---------- ------First Half '04------
Ad Dollars Change Ad Dollars Change
Primetime $2,176.6 million +10.0% $3,973.2 million +10.4%
Late Night $249.0 million +12.1% $445.9 million +12.9%
A.M. $263.4 million +12.6% $501.2 million +16.6%
Daytime $256.4 million -6.4% $511.9 million -0.1%
Kids $11.2 million +8.1% $22.1 million +18.0%
Sports $281.9 million +3.4% $1,091.9 million +7.9%
News $171.5 million -2.0% $323.6 million -1.0%
Total $3,410.0 million +7.7% $6.869.8 million +9.2%

Source: Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association from self- reported data from ABC, CBS and NBC compiled by Ernst & Young LLP.