Analysis Finds Linear Represents 85% Of CTV Inventory

Massive levels of linear TV programming on CTV platforms (connected TV) have resulted in linear making up around 85% of total CTV ad inventory for long-form content, according to Bernstein Research.

“Linear is still the primary channel for mass marketing and a pivotal component for legacy players -- it's shrinking but not going away anytime soon,” writes Lawrence Yoon, media analyst for Bernstein.

The stock research firm expects CTV ad inventory to end up growing 3% in the first quarter of this year, with linear inventory sinking 6% year-over-year. 

The broader CTV category is growing due to rising streaming platforms, which include advertising video-on-demand [AVOD] platforms and FAST (Free Ad-Supported Television] channels.



Streaming’s ad inventory will rise 60% in the first quarter of this year.

Linear’s ad decline is due to consistent cord-cutting by consumers of traditional pay TV-video bundles, which was down 11% in 2023. Adding in newer virtual, internet delivered pay TV bundles still results in a 6% fall in subscribers..

Bernstein expects linear TV ad revenue to be down 8% in the first quarter of this year.

The number of commercials watched on linear TV (including that via virtual pay TV packages) are estimated to drop by 27% of that indexed in the first quarter of 2021.

This dynamic, says Yoon, is also the result of legacy media efforts to shift highly viewed sports programming content to their own in-house direct-to-consumer platforms.

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