A new study estimates that ad revenue at basic cable networks grew 4.5% to $29.6 billion in 2016, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence’s SNL Kagan.
Those gains are forecast to almost double this year to 9.3%, with a 7.1% hike in 2018, followed by a return “to a more normalized rate of less than 5% in 2019 and 2020.”
Advertising revenue had a 1.6% ad gain in 2014 and an increase of 1.9% in 2015.
SNL Kagan believes gains in advertising can be partly attributed to new metrics: “We are assuming the industry gets a new widely adopted cross-platform measurement system in place in late 2017” from Nielsen.
For example, cable networks' affiliate revenue in 2015 gained 7.5% over 2014 to $37.58 billion. This compares to a 1.9% hike in 2015 in gross advertising revenue to $28.28 billion. Overall ad-supported cable network 2015 revenue grew 5.3% to $63.63 billion.
Research results indicate that the advertising growth rates of basic cable networks have been on a general downward trend since 2010 -- when cable networks posted a 9.9% hike over 2009 -- the start of the recession. In 2011, the rate was 9.5%; and it was 4.4% in 2012; 6.5% in 2013; 1.6% in 2014; and 1.9% in 2015.
Since 2005, basic cable networks have seen a drop in the share of dollars coming from advertising revenue -- 37.8% in 2015 versus 46.9% in 2005. At the same time, subscriber-fee revenue for those networks has climbed to 59.1% from 49.3%. Research shows that the "other revenue" category was at 3.2% in 2015; 3.8% in 2005.
SNL Kagan estimates that gross basic cable ad revenue will climb to $32.0 billion in 2020, with affiliate revenue rising to $49.2 million in three years.
In the first two quarters of 2016, AMC Networks, 21st Century Fox, and Scripps Network Interactive showed some of the strongest U.S. advertising revenue gains.
AMC was up 29% in the second quarter and 1% in the first quarter, while Fox improved 13% in the second quarter and 17% in the first; and Scripps gained 9% in the second and 14% in the first.
Time Warner cable networks grew 6% in the second quarter and 5% in the first quarter, while Walt Disney was up 5% in the second quarter and down 9% in the first. Discovery posted gains of 5% and 7% for the second and first quarters, respectively.
Two weaker cable TV groups in the first half of the year were NBCUniversal and Viacom. NBC cable networks were flat in the first two quarters, while Viacom was down 4% in the second quarter and 5% in the first.
SNL Kagan estimates established fully distributed cable networks are losing around 2% of their traditional linear TV subscribers per year.