Expect a big decline in local TV ad revenue this
year -- 19% -- to $14.9 billion in over-the-air revenue, according to Pew Research Center’s analysis of BIA Advisory Service.
The decline will come after last year’s 8% increase in over-the-air advertising revenue, totaling $18.4 billion, in large part due to the big presidential election advertising season. Digital ad revenue for local TV stations grew 6%, to $1.4 billion.
Though local TV news consumption had a resurgence in 2020 over 2019 -- because of the pandemic and big election coverage -- average viewership is still down 7% from 2017.
All news TV programming viewership -- national and local among ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates -- was at an average 3.7 million. That is 4% higher versus 2019, according to Pew’s analysis of Comscore’s StationView data. In 2017, it was 3.99 million; in 2016, 4.2 million.
Looking more narrowly, data from 839 local TV stations -- those with “news-producing” content -- was at $15.3 billion in ad revenue.
Retransmission fees will continue to grow, but more slowly for TV stations -- going 2% higher this year to $12.4 billion. By way of comparison the rise from 2019 from 2018 was 7% ($11.9 million).
Pew authors write: “Financially, local TV companies generated more revenue in 2020 than in 2019, consistent with a cyclical pattern in which revenue rises in election years and falls in non-election years.”