National TV Q2 Viewing Down, But TV Advertising Stable

Despite double-digit percentage declines in traditional TV viewership, TV advertising remains stable.

A Bernstein Research report says broadcast TV networks showed a 13% decline, with cable networks sinking 15%, in Nielsen-measured C3 prime-time 18-49 viewing for the second quarter of this year.

C3 is the average commercial minute rating plus three days of time-shifting viewing.

Total average viewership did a bit better with broadcast networks down 8% and cable TV networks down 10% during the period, according to the report.

Previous quarters show similar 18-49 viewership declines in total national TV viewing: a 15% drop in second-quarter 2019 (broadcast and cable); a 15% drop in first-quarter 2019; 11% down in fourth-quarter 2018; 12% in the third-quarter 2018 and a 9% dip in second quarter 2018.



Still, Todd Juenger, media analyst of Bernstein Research, notes TV networks groups are maintaining ad revenue.

“Falling audiences represent a sharp decline in the supply pool of available video advertising impressions in the marketplace. But demand has remained stable, and the growing substitutes (online video) are not yet big enough in absolute to replace the loss in TV supply.”

He adds: “So with stable demand and falling supply, the unit price of delivering an advertising message gets bid up (which we see in CPM increases), and revenue remains stable (for now).”

A report from MoffettNathanson Research said second-quarter 2019 national TV advertising was virtually flat. National cable TV networks up 1% totaling $5.7 billion, with broadcast networks sinking 1% to $3.2 billion.

Recent upfront advertising activity -- where major brand advertisers secure around 70% of TV network commercial inventory for the coming TV season -- saw 12% to 15% hikes in the cost per thousand viewer (CPM) pricing across many networks/channels, according to media executives and reports.

Overall upfront advertising volume has inched up anywhere from 1% to 3%.

Much of the growth for some networks has come from ad sales of  TV companies digital media platforms. NBCUniversal, for one, has seen a 50% rise in digital advertising dollars to $1.3 billion for next season.

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