Second Quarter TV Scatter Ad Market Revenue Jumped 11% Over 2017

World Cup helped increase national ad spend by 5%

Among primetime originals shows, The Walking Dead had TV's highest average for a 30-second spot in the quarter: $331,691. AMC
Headshot of Jason Lynch

The World Cup helped boost national TV advertising revenue in the second quarter, according to new data from Standard Media Index.

National advertising revenue was up 5 percent year over year in the second quarter, though it would have declined 1 percent without the soccer tournament.

According to SMI, which tracks 70 percent of national ad spending from global and independent agencies, scatter revenue jumped 11 percent in the second quarter, while upfronts revenue was down 4 percent.

Entertainment TV revenue was relatively flat in the quarter, down just 0.4 percent. But networks saw year-over-year gains in primetime original programming, where dramas were up 0.9 percent, reality shows increased 2.5 percent and comedies jumped a hefty 19.5 percent.

Among the broadcasters, CBS primetime original programming revenue was up 22 percent. ABC increased 7 percent, while NBC and Fox were each up 2 percent.

The average paid unit cost for 30-second ad fell 3.4 percent to $3,696, and there was a 4 percent decline in makegoods year over year.

At $331,691, The Walking Dead had the highest average for a 30-second spot among primetime originals in the quarter. Empire came in second with $322,659, followed by The Big Bang Theory at $295,138.

Cable news networks once again saw robust revenue gains in the quarter. Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and HLN were up a combined 16 percent year over year; MSNBC alone jumped 70 percent.

However, broadcast news revenue was down 6 percent in the second quarter. Only CBS and ABC saw revenue gains (4 percent for CBS; 2 percent for ABC).

Sports ad revenue fell 6.6 percent this year, not counting the World Cup. The NBA Finals, which was one game less this year versus 2017, had a 12 percent revenue decline, but average ad revenue per game—$45.7 million for ABC—was up 10 percent.

Also denting this quarter’s sports ad revenue: Two Final Four games took place in April last year, meaning there were counted in second quarter, but the corresponding 2018 games occurred in the first quarter in March.

Scheduling was also responsible for decline in both Fox and Telemundo’s second-quarter World Cup revenue versus 2014 (when ESPN and ABC aired the English-language games, while Univision had the Spanish-language broadcast).

With four fewer June World Cup games in 2018 compared to 2014, Fox Sports’ second-quarter World Cup revenue was $58.2 million, down 31 percent from 2014. Telemundo’s broadcast brought in $90.3 million in the same timeframe, a decline from Univision’s $135.5 million in 2014.

Among categories, prescription pharmaceuticals spent the most on advertising this quarter, up 19 percent year over year, while automotive, which came in second, dropped its ad spend 12 percent. Food, produce and dairy was third in TV ad spend this quarter (down 5 percent from last year), followed by quick serve restaurants (up 3 percent) and insurance (a 9 percent increase).

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