CBS's Poltrack Sees Slow TV Ad Growth

David Poltrack, the usually bullish chief research officer at CBS, says he's expecting TV ad revenues to be flat for the first half of 2015.

Poltrack, speaking at UBS's 42d Annual Global Media and Communications Conference Monday, also said that while Netflix is a big factor in lower ratings for traditional TV, selling programs to the streaming video-on-demand services is still good business.

He added that while more advertisers appear to be shifting ad dollars to digital from television, it's not a good idea because it doesn't result in greater campaign reach or bigger increases in sales.

Poltrack conceded that the upbeat forecast for broadcast ad spending a year ago was off the mark by a wide margin. "The advertising market never gained any momentum in 2014," he said.

For 2015, Poltrack said the economy appears to be getting better, but that won't necessarily quickly lead to increased ad spending. He said that first the first half, he expected ad spending to be flat, with the possibility of 2% growth in the second half. That would mean that for the full year, ad spending would be down 1% from 2014, an Olympics and election year. Excluding those big events, underlying growth would be up 1% for the year.

Poltrack added that he sees the broadcast networks adding to their share of ad dollars versus cable, finishing 2015 with an underlying growth rate of 2%.

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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.