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National TV Flat During 2017-18 Broadcast Year

National TV advertising spending was flat at $45.5 billion during the 2017-18 broadcast year, excluding the big ticket items of the Winter Olympics and World Cup, according to new figures from Standard Media Index.

In a climate where TV ratings are shrinking and digital competitors are grabbing ad dollars traditionally earmarked for broadcasting and cable, SMI deemed the flat result a successful one for the industry.

“As the industry faces cord 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.”

According to SMI’s AccuTV data, broadcast ad revenue was down 4%, offset by a 3% increase in cable. 

The AccuTV data are the first to incorporate Nielsen Ad Intel data in addition to the information SMI gets direct from the computers at most of the big media buying agencies.

Ad revenue from original primetime comedies was up 3% thanks in part to the revivals of Roseanne on ABC and Will & Grace on NBC.

Revenue generated by original primetime dramas was down 1% and reality shows were up 2%.

Live sports scored the most revenue of any programming genre. The Winter Olympics drew $748 million in ad spending and the World Cup attracted $234 million. Excluding those two events, live sports ad revenue was down 3% to $7.9 billion.

SMI noted that while several major programmers have talked about their efforts to reduce commercial clutter as they compete with ad free competition from Netflix and Amazon, ad loads grew 4%, with an 8% increase on broadcast and 3% on cable.

Among TV companies, Comcast’s ad revenue was tops with 21%, followed by The Walt Disney Co. at 15%. After acquiring Scripps Networks, Discovery also controlled a 15% share of the national TV ad market.