SMI-2016

While television networks are optimistic about the new season’s upfront advertising marketplace, looking for mid-double-digit percentage price increases, overall TV ad revenues show a flat and/or downward trend over the last two years.

Standard Media Index reports that upfront-placed ad revenue for the better part of the previous TV season, October 2018 through April 2019, reached $19.3 billion, a decrease of 3% over two years. During the same period, scatter-placed advertising revenue is at $7.1 billion -- flat over a two-year basis, according to Media Post.

Growth categories for upfront deals during the period include financial services, up +6%; “scatter revenue,” +15% more (scatter TV deals are when marketers buy TV networks on a month-to-month or quarter-by-quarter basis, MediaPost explains. Upfront deals are TV buys made for an entire TV season); pharmaceutical, +2%; and wellness, +16%.

Large networks price hikes are likely to compensate for continued lower TV viewership overall, say media executives in the MediaPost story. In the past year, linear TV viewership has been down around 12% to 15% on average.

For the 2018-2019 TV season, Media Dynamics says the five English-language broadcast networks—ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CW—gained 5.8% to $9.6 billion in the upfront market, and cable networks were 4.7% higher to $11.1 billion.