TV Upfront Spend Shifts, Cable Grows Steadily

Historical trends for prime-time TV upfront spending continue to ebb.

Media Dynamics, a media consulting company, says the growth of prime-time TV upfront revenue has slowed over the last five years (for the broadcast year 2010-2011 through 2014-2015) from the previous five seasons.

The last five upfront markets witnessed 11% higher spending to $90.5 billion -- with cable up 29% and broadcast networks adding only 1%. Growth in the previous five-year period -- 2005-2006 to 2009-2010 -- was at 19% to $79.9 billion over the previous period.

Cable share of the upfront market has grown steadily to a 50.5% share of upfront revenues in the most recent five-year period -- up from 44.2% in the previous five, and higher than 37.9% in the period from 2000-2001 to 2004-2005.



In comparison, ABC, CBS and NBC in the early 1990s typically garnered 70% of all prime-time upfront sales -- now around 37%.

Ed Papazian, president of Media Dynamics, Inc., stated: “Clearly, the slowdown in upfront spending is a function of declined economic growth, but digital media has also begun to siphon off upfront dollars.”

Media Dynamics says over the past 25 seasons, advertisers have spent $307 billion in TV’s upfront marketplace

Papazian adds: “The 2015-16 [upfront] season should be the most significant upfront in years, and possibly a tipping point for traditional TV’s dominance.”

2 comments about "TV Upfront Spend Shifts, Cable Grows Steadily".
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  1. Robert Dilworth from DILigent Marketing, February 18, 2015 at 9:01 a.m.

    "TV upfront spending continue to ebb. "
    No, that is not what the data says.
    TV ad spend grew substantially: Conventional networks grew at a slower rate than cable channels. No "ebbing".

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 18, 2015 at 9:19 a.m.

    Robert, the press release contains several tables which may interest you regarding the relative size of the increases among the major players. The broadcast network's upfront dollar growth in recent five year intervals is almost nil; cable is making the real gains and this is driving increases in overall upfront spending. This report will appear in an upcoming issue of the free newsletter we publish on a bi-weekly basis.

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