Advanced Television

Report: US TV maintains YoY revenue

October 31, 2018

Standard Media Index (SMI), a source for ad pricing and revenue data, has unveiled US television figures for the 2017-18 Broadcast Season.

This month marks the start of the company’s updated version of our AccuTV product. With this advancement, SMI says it is expanding coverage and improving accuracy through a new relationship with Nielsen Ad Intel. Using SMI’s real prices paid on spots and combining with Nielsen Ad Intel occurrence data, SMI models out 100 per cent of spots in the TV marketplace across 125+ networks. This development brings the addition of 50 networks, the inclusion and breakout of Promo/PSA ads, and enhanced pricing methodology at the telecast level.

Kelly Abcarian, SVP, Product Leadership at Nielsen said: “By fostering this relationship, SMI will now be one of the most comprehensive and complete sources of advertising intelligence available in the market and will be able to unlock the power of these insights across the broad media landscape in an accurate and unprecedented fashion as a way to drive client value.”

Data from the new and improved AccuTV shows that during the full 2017-18 Broadcast Season, excluding the quadrennial Winter Olympics and World Cup, National TV maintained revenue of $45.5 Billion. This is the same as the prior year, despite declining audiences and continued pressure from Digital.

“As the industry faces chord cutting in record numbers, much of the discussion has been around TV Networks’ new Digital offerings; nevertheless, the continued value of linear cannot be ignored,” said James Fennessy, SMI CEO.  “This is especially true for Cable networks, which are growing in revenue.”

Broadcast vs Cable

The 2017-18 season was better for Cable networks, which grew revenue 3 per cent, while Broadcast fell -4 per cent, when excluding the Winter Olympics and World Cup.

Interestingly, ad loads – or the number of 30-second equivalized spots – increased this season, despite several networks recently announcing plans to reduce ad time.  Overall, ad loads grew 4 per cent, with an 3 per cent increase from Cable and an 8 per cent increase from Broadcast. By the same token, the overall number of unpaid spots – also known as ADUs or makegoods – declined -1 per cent from the 2016-17 season.

Primetime Original Programming

Among Primetime Original Entertainment, Comedies are laughing their way to the way to the bank.  Primetime Original Comedies saw 3 per cent growth this year. This genre got a lift as high-profile reboots and spinoffs commanded higher prices than other sitcoms.  Specifically, Roseanne on ABC, Will & Grace on NBC, and Young Sheldon on CBS were all among the top 5 most expensive primetime original comedies during the season.

Meanwhile, revenue from Primetime Original Dramas slipped -1 per cent this season.  However, despite the decline, original dramas brought in more than three times the total revenue of original comedies.

Primetime Reality Shows also saw a bump of 2 per cent this year, especially during the broadcast month of September.  That month included the finales of American Ninja Warrior, So You Think You Can Dance, Bachelor in Paradise, and America’s Got Talent, as well as the premiers of Dancing with the Stars and The Voice.  Altogether, Primetime Reality Shows grew 30 per cent YoY in September.

SMI defines original programming as non-syndicated, new episodes for comedy, drama, and reality subgenres.

Live Sporting Events

Live sporting events dominated television during the 2017-18 season, thanks to the addition of the World Cup and Winter Olympics.  The two events brought in linear television revenue of $234 Million and $748 Million, respectively.  With the insertion of nearly a billion dollars into the marketplace, Sports saw an overall increase of 7 per cent this season.  Excluding those two events, live sports games earned $7.9 Billion, down -3 per cent YoY.

Market Share

Comcast takes the lead in market share this season with 21 per cent, well ahead of number two, The Walt Disney Company at 15 per cent.  Comcast had a terrific year, with NBCUniversal properties airing both the Olympics and the Super Bowl.

Discovery, which formed during this Broadcast season after the merger of Discovery Communications and Scripps Networks Interactive, has become the second largest TV Network Group in the Entertainment vertical, comprising 15 per cent of the market.

Advertisers by Category

Within National, the Auto industry spent the most on advertising in this season, although that figure declined by -2 per cent YoY. The next largest spenders were Prescription Pharmaceuticals (8 per cent), Entertainment (-6 per cent), Food -7 per cent, and Insurance (19 per cent).


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