Data Shows Networks Approaching '02 Ad Spending Levels

Lagging data released Tuesday by the broadcast and cable industry's financial trade association indicates that the broadcast network advertising marketplace had fully stabilized by the third quarter of 2003 and was on pace to reach fabled year 2000 proportions.

Combined revenues for the Big 3 broadcast networks rose 5.6% during the third quarter, marking the second consecutive quarter of upward ad sales momentum this year, according to estimates compiled by the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association.

Through the first three quarters of 2003, total network ad revenues were down 2.8% from the same period in 2002, but those results reflect tough comparisons with a year that included NBC's coverage of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

That pattern should reverse itself in 2004, predicted BCFM president-CEO Mary Collins. "We're seeing some very positive trends emerging for the major networks, reflective of overall improvements in ad spending, which is climbing back toward the levels we experienced in 2000."



The greatest network ad momentum during the third quarter came from late night (+16.7 percent), followed by early morning news (+11.3 percent), though primetime continued to be quite healthy (+6.4 percent) as well. Daytime (-0.2%) was surprisingly flat.

Third Quarter, Year-To-Date Network Ad Revenues (In Millions)

Q3 '03 Vs. Q3 '02 YTD '03 Vs. YTD '02
Primetime $1,397 +6.4% $4,997 +10.9%
Late Night $163 +16.7% $558 +17.8%
A.M. News $175 +11.3% $605 +13.5%
Daytime $233 -0.2% $746 +4.5%
Children $10 -18.7% $29 -18.5%
Sports $382 +0.6% $1,394 -40.6%
Evening News $140 +5.3% $467 +7.2%
Total $2,501 +5.6% $8,795 -2.8%

Source: Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association. Self-reported network revenue data from ABC, CBS and NBC prepared by Ernst & Young LLP.
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