ABC, CBS Prime-Time Scatter Prices Plummet Without Major Sports

CBS and ABC suffered lower prime-time scatter pricing in the spring and summer 2020 periods due to the cancellation or postponement of major sports events as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both networks see typically higher pricing levels during those periods.

CBS had to forego the NCAA’s Men’s Basketball Tournament (March-April) and The Masters PGA golf event (April). ABC had to do the same with NBA Finals (June).

In April of this year, CBS' average prime-time scatter pricing was $107,308 versus $144,905 in April a year ago, while ABC's scatter pricing was $56,916 in June of this year versus $112,334 in June 2019, according to SQAD MediaCosts-National, which collects media agency and brand pricing data.

Apart from this, scatter TV network pricing during the five-month pandemic period of March though July followed a similar downward trend for those months.

Starting in March of this year, the average 30-second prime-time scatter price among ABC, CBS and NBC in terms of scatter pricing was $108,494 (March), $106,399 (April), $102,006 (May), $67,681 (June) and $56,568 (July).



The year before in 2019, the average 30-second prime-time price was $89,453 in March, $108,285 (April); $89,452 (May), $80,486 (June) and $56,068 (July).

Scatter pricing in normal years typically trends down in the later half of the second quarter -- after the September-through-May TV season ends as major TV prime-time shows conclude their seasonal runs.

Scatter TV media deals are made by TV marketers with quarter-by-quarter or month-to-month deals with TV networks -- versus TV marketers, who make year-long “upfront” deals -- September to August media-inventory buys.

1 comment about "ABC, CBS Prime-Time Scatter Prices Plummet Without Major Sports".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 11, 2020 at 5:56 p.m.

    Wayne, numbers such as the ones you cite from SQAD can be interpreted in many ways. For example, taking the March-July averages for all three broadcast networks, scatter pricing was down only 5%. Assuming that Nielsen's average minute audience estimates for the same period dropped by more than 5%, this would mean that the average scatter buyer in 2020 paid more per viewer than last year----not less. On the other hand, if viewing rose by, say, 10% while the cost per commercial declined by 5%, 2020 advertisers  who bought scatter were sitting pretty. So time costs and CPMs must be considered, not just time costs.  Also, I question the assumption that sports had much to do with this. As a rule sports is bought separately and not part of scatter to any meaningful extent---if I'm wrong on this I will gladly stand correction. So I would ask SQAD how much of their scatter time cost estimates are for sports buys and how much are for entertainment/newsmag buys.

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