Magazine article Variety

An Iffy Recovery for TV Ad Sales

Magazine article Variety

An Iffy Recovery for TV Ad Sales

Article excerpt

it's not easy togeta straight answer on the state of the TV industry. On one hand, there's the doom-and-gloom perspective: Ratings are falling; subscribers are cutting or shaving the cord. But then there are the optimists, who point out - correctly - that ad revenue has shown growth for three straight quarters. So the question becomes whether we are seeing a true recovery or just a blip in the general downward trend.

In the face of industry headwinds, what is driving the current growth? First-quarter financial reports provide some clues.

Disney's cable networks sold more ad units but saw a slight decline in ad revenue due to lower ratings and rates. The company's broadcasting arm, meanwhile, saw higher ad revenue due to rate increases, even though ratings dropped.

Comcast's distribution business showed ad revenue growth due to higher rates and abundant political advertising. On the programming side, revenue was flat, as higher ad rates offset ratings declines. The NBC arm's total quarterly revenue was down from last year, when it carried the Super Bowl, but if you strip out the big game, underlying ad revenue actually grew 9.6% due to higher rates (and one additional NFL game).

21" Century Fox's cable networks reported low-double-digit gains in ad revenue, thanks to higher prices and-get this-better ratings. Political spending drove up revenue on the broadcast side.

CBS not only benefited big from hosting this year's Super Bowl, it also saw 12% growth in underlying ad spend in its Entertainment unit. …

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