Sports Boost TV Ad Spending in October

Television ad spending  jumped 9.8% in October from a year ago, powered by an historic World Series and an extra weekend of football broadcasts

According to reserach company Standard Media Index, broadcast spending was up 6.3%, with Fox, which carried the baseball championship, up 32%.

Cable spending was up 12.9%, powered big gains at the news networks covering the presidential elections. Fox News was up 35% and CNN showed a 60% increase.

The high-rated World Series  won by the long-suffering Cubs generated ad spending  than more than doubled a year ago. Looking at just the first five games of the series—the same length as last year’s Royal’s championship, spending was up 28%.

Spots on Game 7 of the 2016 World Series cost an average of $364,7000, up 23% from Game 1 of the series, and 31% higher than the highest-priced game of 2015.

The average price for a 30-second spot on NFL football broadcasts on the major networks was $455,310, up 4% from a year ago. Broadcasters had gross ad revenues of more than $750 million from NFL broadcasts during the month. That was up 14%, but this year’s October had 5 football weekends, compared to four a year ago.

NFL spots on CBS cost 6% more, spots on Fox were up 3%, while Sunday Night Football on NBC spots rose 2%.

Spots on CBS’s Thursday night football were up 9% versus a year ago and ESPN showed a10% increase for Monday Night Football, according to the SMI data.

When you put NFL and college football together, ad revenue increased 16%.

“Live sport continues to be the main driver of advertiser revenue and audience attention for TV. While we expect to see this slow down as the networks pay back undelivered audiences, it’s clear that advertisers are not backing away from the huge and guaranteed following football delivers. Similarly, we also saw record numbers for the 2016 World Series,” said James Fennessy, CEO of SMI. “While we can attribute much of October’s gains to key sporting events, the news networks also delivered great numbers in the final weeks of the election coverage. We are seeing many advertisers frontload the holiday season with TV, OOH and radio, buys and we anticipate they will finish this up with a heavy focus on digital as they look to drive consumers into stores later in the season.”

In addition to Fox, NBC posted a gain in ad revenue during the month. CBS was down 7% and ABC dropped 12%. Ion, a smaller network, posted a big 32% gain, SMI said.

Primetime revenue across the Big 4 broadcast nets was down 4.6%, but the average cost of a 30-second commercial rose by 1.5%.

Excluding sports, the average cost of a primetime spot was $96,7000, down 3% from a year ago.

On Thursday night, a key night for advertisers, ABC’s TGIF lineup pulled in the most revenue, followed by NBC and CBS.

On cable, spending on Fox Sports 1 and MLB Networks more than doubled, thanks to the baseball playoffs

Turner’s TBS and TNT were also winners, growing 15% and 32% respectively.

Scripps Networks’ HGTV also posted gains of about 20%.

On the political side, Hillary Clinton spent 276% more on national TV year to date than Donald Trump, who won the election.

SMI gets its data directly from the computer systems at media agencies representing about 70% of U.S. national ad spending.

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.