National TV Ad Revenue Dropped 2.4% in January

National linear TV advertising revenue was down 2.4% in January from a year ago, when advertisers spent unusually heavily to avoid competing with NBC’s Olympics, according to new data from Standard Media Index.

SMI said that in addition to marketers moving dollars some programming moved from February to January, including CBS’s broadcast of the Grammy Awards.

Compared to two January 2017, national television advertising looks healthier, posting a 2% gain.

“The market is in a state-of-flux regarding annual comparisons due to The Olympics,” said James Fennessy, SMI CEO. “It’s important analysts, media companies, agencies, and marketers consider implicit market dynamics this month particularly with Upfront preparations underway. We recommend a two-year comparison likely through all of 1st quarter for national TV.”

Although the NFL had a bounce back season in the regular season ratings, revenues were down for the three rounds of the layoffs, according to SMI. The wildcard games drew $139.3 million in revenue, down 15% from the year before, the divisional playoff games drew $207.1 million, down 5% and the conference championships drew $210.2 million, down 8%. According to SMI the overall 9% decline in NFL playoff game revenue came despite a 2% increase in paid units.

Among entertainment shows, NBC’s broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards drew the highest price per spot $713,000 per 30 seconds, up 10% from a year ago. The award show generated a total of $49.4 million in ad revenue.

Spots in NBC’s This Is Us averaged $375,000, making them the second most expensive spots, on average during the month.

Rounding out the most expensive entertainment show spots during the month were ABC’s Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rocking Eve with Ryan Seacrest at $327,000, Fox’s musical Rent at $241,000, CBS’s comedy The Big Bang Theory at $186,000; Fox’s The Orville at $182,000, NBC's America’s Got Talent, at $150,000 , CBS’s Young Sheldon at $139,000, ABC’s Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve at $134,000, tied with Fox’s The Passage.

Among media companies, Comcast accounts for 10% of ad revenue along with Google. They are followed byThe Walt Disney Co. at 9%, 21st Century Fox at 8% and CBS at 8%

Disney is close to completing its acquisition of Fox’s cable entertainment and studio assets.

Advertiser categories increasing spending during January included banking and investments, general services, household supplies, non-alcoholic beverages and health & fitness.

Spending by consumer electronics companies was down 33% and technology companies spent 25% less.

Overall SMI said it expects the national advertiser media marketplace to grow by 2%. Small and medium sized businesses are expected to increase their aid spending by about 14% annually because of self-serve products that give them access to ad inventory at low price points.

For the full year, SMI expects the ad market across all media to increase 7.6%.

SMI gets its ad pricing and revenue from invoices sent to participating media agencies representing about 70% of all spending including five of the seven largest agency holding groups.

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.