TV Spots Rates Hold Steady

For almost two-and-a-half years, broadcast network television commercial costs have been up or virtually flat -- reversing declines in previous years due to the recession, among other factors. That trend continued in 2012.

Third-quarter commercial unit costs averaged $82,396, virtually the same as 2011. Fox is at the highest level, with $119,265. CBS is next at $82,265, followed by ABC at $73,618 and NBC -- sans the Olympic programming -- at $71,368. This analysis comes from independent media agency TargetCast tcm, using data from NetCosts and research firm SQAD.

During the bigger previous period -- the second quarter of 2012 -- average prime-time 30-second commercials were up 3% to $130,194. Fox was tops again -- at almost twice the level of the next networks, with $227,490. ABC was at $122,396, followed by CBS at $121,464 and NBC at $101,586.

TargetCast says this makes 10 consecutive quarters in which broadcast network unit costs were either up or virtually flat, which comes after the economic recession, declining broadcast ratings and the growth of cable.

Despite a softer scatter market than last year, overall costs were stable due to the high sell-out levels in the upfront, stated Gary Carr, senior vp and executive director of national broadcast at TargetCast. He added that advertisers committed more money up front to avoid potentially high prices in scatter.

Cable networks' TV commercial pricing was flat in the second quarter of 2012, among the top 15 networks for adult 25-54 viewers at $14,267.

ESPN was at the top with $32,575, with TNT next at $32,525. In the third quarter of 2012, commercial prices were down 2% to $12,793 -- due to lower demand caused by advertiser dollars going to Olympics programming.

TargetCast added that ad-supported cable ratings in the second quarter for the Top 15 networks among 25-54 viewers were up about 4%. Third-quarter ratings were down 2% due to Olympics programming.



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