Advanced Television

Data: Upfront linear TV eCPMs up 12% YoY in US

April 30, 2024

Guideline reports that upfront linear TV eCPMs averaged +4.9 per cent annual growth from 2021 through 2023 in the US, while overall OTT averaged flat -0.1 per cent performance.

Guideline leverages actual agency pricing data to unveil exclusive ‘effective CPMs’ or eCPMs. This unique, directly ingested data empowers strategic NewFronts & Upfronts preparation and negotiation.

Linear TV Pricing Continually Increases, while OTT Holds Stable

Annually, since 2021, Upfront Linear TV eCPMs (against Persons 2-99) reliably increased by mid-single-digits, while OTT varied by low-single-digits.

Linear TV and OTT (i.e., long-form streaming content) showcase opposing audience viewership dynamics. Linear TV faced ongoing audience reach erosion, while OTT viewership continues to climb with more consumers connecting to more content in those channels.

In 2021, the first post-Covid year, consumers flocked to streaming content and advertisers pursued their increased attention and time spent with streaming. More recently, OTT growth continued but softened.

As demonstrated in Guideline’s 2023 US Media Year-in-Review, Digital Video growth recalibrated more toward short-form or user-generated OLV than OTT, especially driven by the proliferation of currently newsworthy TikTok.

Given OLV’s less premium nature vs. OTT episodic streaming, OLV eCPMs lagged OTT eCPMs by more than half. (i.e., effective CPMs, reflecting a blended average that captures a combination of various demos, unit lengths, campaign attributes, Direct + Third-Party Programmatic buys, etc.)

Targeting & Appointment Viewing Drives Higher Upfront Linear TV eCPMs

Narrowing the audience demo composition to a specific segment, from Persons 2-99 to Persons 18-49, yields not only higher Linear eCPMs but higher annual price growth, reaching double digits that averaged +13 per cent in the last three years.

Moreover, Sports Linear TV eCPMs equaled almost twice that of equivalent Non-Sports programming. Sports remains a bastion of live, appointment viewing. Accordingly, advertisers gravitated to Sports which increased Linear TV ad spend share last year, while the associated eCPMs grew by low-single-digits.

Age-targeted Linear TV and OTT land on the higher end of the pricing spectrum.

Scatter Premiums Inherently Reflect Market Mood

In 2023, the Scatter Premium (i.e., the price relative to Upfront inventory for more liquid Scatter reserves) reached 1.14x, representing a three-year low vs. 1.27x in 2021. Notably, Entertainment strikes posed a disruptive market force with less new programming available, as the year progressed.

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