Broadcast Ad Sales Got Olympic Boost in February: SMI

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Broadcast TV ad sales rose 15% in February with NBC airing coverage of the Winter Olympic Games from Beijing, according to the latest figures from Standard Media Index.

February was also a big month for TV networks in terms of digital video sales, which were up 83%. Some of that was probably Olympic dollars feathering NBCU's Peacock’s nest. Peacock was home based for NBCU's Olympic programming.

Overall the big media companies that own television networks are making more of an effort to reach viewers through their digital and streaming platforms as traditional TV ratings shrink.

The networks’ digital sales accounted for 5% of all media spending in February. That compares to broadcast TV’s share of 17% and cable TV’s 15% share, per SMI.

Cable TV ad spending was down 7% in February and syndication was down 16%.

In a non-election year spot TV was down 3%, and local TV and cable was down 1%. 

Ad sales involving third parties, notably including media targeting, barter and ad tech companies, as well as rep firms, was up 17%. 

Total linear TV was up 2% compared to a year ago in February.

In addition to the sales by the TV networks, digital was strong, with pure-play video outfits (including YouTube and Hulu) up 32%. Also rising were spending via ad networks and ad exchanges, up 19%.

Total digital was up 25% in the month, representing 54% of all ad spend.

SMI’s data comes from invoices at major and independent agencies and it skews toward nationally advertised brands. ■

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.