National Q3 TV Ads Record Double-Digit Declines

Third-quarter national TV advertising was hit with double-digit declines, according to one industry report -- with an estimate of a slight increase in the current fourth quarter.

MoffettNathanson Research estimates third-quarter TV network advertising to be off 10% -- with Nielsen C3 18-49 prime-time viewership sinking 14%.

Broadcast networks were down 18.5%, with cable networks losing 4%. The broadcast pullback was largely due to unfavorable comparisons to NBC’s Summer Rio Olympics in August 2016. Without the Olympics, this projects a 1% decline for all national TV for the period.

“The negative ad growth (down 10%) will market the greatest decline over the past six years,” writes Michael Nathanson, senior research analyst at MoffettNathanson Research. He adds: “We currently project a return to growth in the [fourth quarter], but given the current ratings trends, this could prove to be too optimistic.”

In the third quarter, viewership at broadcast networks was down 31% to average 4.7 million C3 18-49 viewers -- with NBC off 50% 1.7 million. Even then, NBC still led all TV networks, largely because of its regular summer entertainment programming.



Only Fox showed gains versus the third quarter a year ago -- 6% higher to 880,000. ABC and CBS were each off 14% -- to 1.04 million and 930,000, respectively.

By comparison, national TV cable networks sank 6% to 14.6 million C3 18-49 prime-time viewers.

The overall third-quarter national TV decline of 14% followed a 12% decline in the second quarter of 2017. “We continue to believe these declines are driven by bifurcation of consumption into live (sports, news, events) and on-demand (VOD, DVR, SVOD) buckets," Nathanson said.

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