Mixed Results For 4Q TV Station Ad Revs

Even despite the somewhat lower-than-expected political advertising revenues, some TV station groups are cheering the windfall that 2016 bought.

But are “core” TV advertisers -- those consistent year in and year out buyers of TV ad inventory --  getting the shaft around these periods?

Meredith Corp. recently reported a big fiscal fourth-quarter period of $40 million in political advertising windfall -- up $798,000 versus the same period a year ago.

But during that same time period, core advertising -- non-political marketers -- went in the other direction. Meredith’s nonpolitical advertising sank 11% in the latest quarter to $91.96 million and down 9% over the most recent six month period to $176.1 million.

Political advertisers not only have the right to pre-empt other TV advertisers, but the Federal Communications Commission requires stations to charge political marketers the lowest rate available for that ad time slot. Also, the FCC requires equal share of advertising time for both political parties.



All that created confusion for TV station advertisers in the fourth-quarter period. Some look to get the media re-expressed in other times in other periods -- or on other programs -- or move to other platforms, national TV networks, digital, or non-TV media. As a results, there can be higher costs overall -- just for all these adjustments.

This seems to be getting worse, as general trends in political TV advertising keep rising. Local TV political advertising is expected to total $2.8 billion in 2016 -- down $500 million from earlier estimates. Still, all this is higher -- albeit, slightly -- from $2.7 billion registered in 2012, the last presidential election.

Consider more change for TV stations in the next four years -- lower overall gross TV rating points and increasing more shifting ad dollars to TV station-owned digital platforms, as well as other non-owned digital platforms. All that might squeeze traditional linear fourth-quarter marketers more.

Wait and see if more TV station groups post similar good/bad news 4Q results. Then draw up some better battle plans for 2020.

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