Weak Upfront Sees Loss In Dollar Share For Broadcast, Cable

A softer-than-usual TV upfront market continues to hamper both broadcast and cable networks.

For October, total TV lost 9% in overall share of dollars for those media agencies that work with Standard Media Index. SMI is a research company that compiles actual TV and media-buying data from media agencies representing 75% of the market.

For the month, broadcast networks were down 9%; cable TV lost 7%; spot TV fell 17%; and syndication slipped 10%. Only local cable TV improved, up 2%.

By contrast, digital gained 11% during the period, and newspapers were also up 5%. Going south were magazines, losing 8%; out-of-home, giving up 10%; and radio, down 4%.

James Fennessy, chief commercial officer for Standard Media Index, says: “This shows the weakness in the upfront market for the new season and the networks holding inventory back to attract higher pricing.” Fennessy says SMI results from its media agencies “are just under $50 billion of invoice value through October.”



Upfront spending for many TV marketers typically starts when the broadcast TV season begins in mid-September. Other TV upfront advertising deals can begin earlier, and some later.

Prime-time TV dollars spent in October on the four major broadcast networks witnessed 84.4% coming from upfront deals and 15.6% coming from scatter deals, according to Standard Media Index. This is down slightly from the 88.7% of dollars coming to broadcast networks from upfront deals and 11.3% coming from scatter in the October 2013 market.

NBC got 29% of all upfront dollars — among the four top broadcast networks — that were available in October; 28% for CBS; 22% for Fox; and 21% for ABC. CBS and ABC each got 28% of all scatter dollars; NBC, 27%; and Fox, 17%.

Cable networks witnessed a bigger dip year-to-year, with upfront revenues making up 76.7% of all its prime-time media placed in October and 23.3% coming from scatter. A year ago in October, cable got 82.7% of its media placed from upfront deals; 17.3% from scatter.

Comparing media from January to October of this year, total media dollars witnessed 6% year-over-year growth. TV grew 5% during the period to an industry-leading 59% share -- with cable TV at a 26% share; broadcast networks, 21%; local TV spot, 8%; national syndication, 2%; and local cable, 2%.

Digital had the fastest growth during the period -- an 18% improvement over the same period a year ago. Digital now has a 25% share of media dollars.

Magazines were down 7% for the first nine months of this year -- now with a 5% share. Newspapers inched up 4%, now settling at a 4% share; out-of-home media gave up 15% during the period, now with a 3% share; and radio slipped 1% to a 4% share.

2 comments about "Weak Upfront Sees Loss In Dollar Share For Broadcast, Cable".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, December 3, 2014 at 2:54 p.m.

    It's the big countdown to the year 2030, if you believe Reed Hastings.

  2. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, December 3, 2014 at 3:54 p.m.

    Cyclical or secular?????

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