Sports, Political TV Fuel National TV Ad Sales In October

National TV advertising sales witnessed a strong October -- nearly 10% higher versus the same month the year before, with sports and political programming a major factor.

The broadcast networks' spend grew 6.3%, while cable climbed 12.9% -- a total TV advertising improvement of 9.8%, according to Standard Media Index.

Fox was a big gainer -- up 32% -- largely due to a full and dramatic seven-game World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians. Cable networks were fueled by big advertising gains driven by strong interest in the political election season, with CNN 60% higher and Fox News Channel 35% higher.

Looking at other broadcast TV networks, CBS was down 7%, while NBC was up 17%; and ABC lost 12%. Mini-broadcast network Ion Television had a 32.3% spike in advertising growth.



Prime-time revenue across all four major networks fell by 4.6%, while the average cost for a 30-second spot rose by 1.5%. Excluding sports, the average 30-second unit cost for all four major networks in prime time was down 3% from October 2015 to $96,700 -- but 10% higher versus September 2016.

Although NFL viewership has taken a big double-digit percentage decline across all TV networks in the first half of the season, the NFL’s individual commercial pricing remains strong: The average 30-second spot across all NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN games was up 4% to $455,310.

For the average 30-second Sunday NFL commercial, CBS saw a 6% increase and Fox a 3% gain. Looking at prime-time NFL football, CBS’ “Thursday Night Football” saw a 9% increase; NBC, a 2% rise for “Sunday Night Football”; and ESPN, 10% more for “Monday Night Football.”

Overall, sports remains a major factor among TV networks, with advertising spending 16% higher NFL and college football -- with a 14% gain for the NFL. That said, there was more prime-time games in this October period for the NFL: Five “Monday Night Football” and five “Sunday Night Football” games; October 2015 only saw 4 of each.

NBC saw the greatest advertising revenue increase in October with 4.7% growth (excluding sports). NBC also witnessed a 20.5% gain on its average unit cost.

Turner’s TBS and TNT grew 15% and 32%, respectively. Scripps Networks Interactive’s HGTV climbed 20%; its Food Network rose 18%. Fox Sports 1 and MLB Network witnessed more than double advertising spend improvement for the month, due to MLB post-season programming.

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