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Sports Gave TV Advertising a Boost in July: SMI

National TV ad revenue rose 2.5% in July, thanks largely to gains in sports on cable, according to new figures from research company Standard Media Index.

Cable news and broadcast primetime entertainment also posted increases.

Cable networks registered a 3.7% rise in ad revenue with sports programming up 30% in July. Broadcast ad revenue was up 0.3%

Much of the cable gain came from the Wimbledon tennis tournament, which aired on ESPN and ESPN2 entirely in July. Last year, four days of Wimbledon were played in June. ESPN also aired the X Games in July after they were played in June last year. The network got a bump from a 12% increase in commercial unit prices on its sports talk shows.

Related: ESPN Fits Mobile App With ‘Watch’ Tab

Cable news networks were also strong, with an 11% increase across Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC. Of those, MSNBC saw the largest gain, up 33%, followed by CNN (up 10%) and FNC (up 5%).

Spending on broadcast sports was down 13% compared witha year ago, when the Olympic trials brought more than $20 million in spending to NBC. The broadcasters were also hurt by the PGA Championship returning to August; it was moved to July last year because of the Olympics.

Related: NBC Sports Rebrands Comcast RSNs

Overall ad spending in July rose 12%.

Digital returned to strong growth with an 18% gain. But SMI said one large advertiser, Unilever, which announced it will shift spending from digital to TV, spent 15% more on cable and broadcast than a year ago.

Digital video grew 12%, with premium video showing big gains. Hulu was up 37%, while YouTube was down 15%. Some advertisers have pulled advertising from YouTube because of concern ads might run alongside inappropriate content. TV network digital was up 11%.

“Despite national TV ratings challenges, the ad market opened the second half of the year with a real bang,” said James Fennessy, CEO of Standard Media Index. “Social and premium video remain the powerhouses of the digital sector.”


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.