National TV Ad Revenue Fell 9% in June to $3.2 Billion

But sports spending fell 60% compared to 2019

two men playing basketball on an indoor court
Without the NBA Finals to broadcast in June, ABC’s ad revenue plummeted 51%. Getty Images
Headshot of Jason Lynch

National TV ad revenue losses aren’t as steep as they were in the pandemic’s earliest months, but the industry still suffered from the lack of live sports programming in June, according to Standard Media Index’s AccTV data.

The national ad marketplace fell just 9% year over year in June, compared to much larger drops in April (28%) and May (19%). In the second quarter overall, the national ad marketplace declined 19%, according to SMI, which tracks 70% of national ad spending from global and independent agencies.

U.S. national TV ad revenues fell 9% in June to $3.2 billion. But without June staples like the NBA Finals, NHL Stanley Cup Finals or MLB regular season games, national ad spending on sports fell 60% compared to 2019.

However, the relentless news cycle led to a 2% revenue increase for nonsports programming in June.

“In June, we saw that some advertising budgets are beginning to return to normal. With the gradual return of televised live sports and businesses and restaurants starting to reopen, we expect results in the coming months to strengthen,” said James Fennessy, global CEO of SMI, in a statement.

Without the NBA Finals this year, Disney’s June ad revenue fell 36% while Fox saw a 17% decline and NBCUniversal dropped 10%. A few media companies saw year over year revenue gains, with A+E Networks and WarnerMedia up 6% each while Univision increased 5%.

National news networks had the largest revenue gains in June; Fox News jumped 55%, CNN skyrocketed 86% and MSNBC was up 10%.

Without the NBA Finals, ABC’s ad revenue plummeted 51% in June while ESPN dropped 20%. Fox dropped 39%, USA was off 17% and NBC fell 11%.

CBS saw a 12% increase in June, and other networks were also up that month, including HGTV (7%), BET (7%), Univision (5%) and Food (1%).

NBCU led broadcasters in June national ad spend for entertainment programs, with revenue up 12%. ViacomCBS, in second, had a 7% revenue increase, while Disney, No. 3 for the month, was down 7%. Univision’s 61% ad revenue bump for entertainment programs was good enough for fourth place. Fox, in fifth, was flat.

Discovery was No. 1 among cable entertainment ad revenue, with revenue down 2% year over year. ViacomCBS was second, with revenue off 18%. WarnerMedia was in third place as revenue fell 9%. NBCUniversal, in fourth, had a 10% decline, and A+E Networks, in fifth, had a 6% revenue increase.

Most media companies saw double-digit declines in the second quarter overall. Disney fell 31%, WarnerMedia was down 26%, ViacomCBS dropped 22% and NBCUniversal was down 21%, followed by Discovery (15%), Univision (8%), Fox (5%) and A&E (3%).

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.