TV Network Ads Down 6%; NFL 30-Second Pricing Rises

TV advertising took a sharp hit in September. Standard Media Index says ad revenues sank nearly 5.8% in the month versus a year ago.

Broadcast TV network spending was down 13.2%, with prime-time revenue down 16%. All cable networks were virtually flat -- up 0.7% for September.

SMI points to shift in money, placed in August -- into the Olympics -- as the reason for the decline. In addition, TV dollars placed by the upfront were down 25% with scatter spending up 32%. Typically, upfront revenues comprise around three-quarters of a network revenue take in any given period.

The average unit cost across four major broadcast networks  -- ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, during the prime time (excluding sports) -- was down 7.6% to $86,000 for a 30-second commercial from $93,300 in 2015. 



SMI also points to much lower broadcast spending resulting from FanDuel and DraftKings, two sports fantasy leagues -- which spent around $100 million collectively a year ago. Much of this came from many state legal actions declaring the businesses were illegal gambling efforts.

A large part of that spending went into sports programming -- especially the NFL. But NFL spending continues to grow.  SMI says the average 30-second commercial across all networks showing NFL games in September was up 4% to $489,193 versus a year ago -- and 10% higher than 2014.

But all this comes against sharp declines  -- double-digit ratings drops -- so far this season, with some make good inventory now being given to marketers by the TV networks.

Sunday afternoon NFL programming has seen an 11% increase in the cost per 30-second commercial on Fox and CBS; with NBC witnessing a 9% gain for  “Sunday Night Football.”

CBS’ “Thursday Night Football” was flat versus the same time last year, while ESPN had a double-digit decline on their 30-second commercials for “Monday Night Football” from the same period in 2015.

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