TVB: Broadcast TV -- Especially Network -- Plummet In Q4

Evidence is mounting that the robust market activity that occurred during last year's 2003-04 upfront TV sales season has not had a positive impact on the overall broadcast TV marketplace, especially for the major broadcast networks. On Wednesday, the Television Bureau of Advertising released its own annual analysis of industry data for 2003 and concluded that total broadcast TV ad spending fell 4.0 percent last year, including a 5.6 percent decline on the broadcast networks. The study showed that the drop was especially pronounced during the fourth quarter - the first fiscal quarter of the 2003-04 buying season - in which broadcast TV ad dollars plummeted 18.2 percent overall and 26.6 percent on the broadcast networks.

The fall-off is due in part to tough comparisons with 2002, a year that enjoyed a political ad spending boom, as well as the 2004 Winter Olympics on NBC. Neither of those factors, however, should have impacted fourth quarter network advertising sales, suggesting that the reputed surge in network advertising demand during the 2003-04 upfront may have been a false indicator of long-term demand.

The TVB findings come after the Broadcast Cable Financial Management association released similar findings based on self-reported data from the Big 3 broadcast networks.

Q4, Full Year '03 Broadcast TV Ad Spending

 
Local Syndicated Network Total
Q4 2003 Dollars: $4.420 $0.9 $4.580 $9.924
Vs. Q4 2002: -12.7% +12.3% -26.6% -18.2%

Full Year '03: $16.244 $3.396 $20.804 $40.444
Vs. Full Year'02: -5.4% +15.3% -5.6% -4.0%

Source: Television Bureau of Advertising analysis of data from TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.