The summer Olympics and the election season helped boost third-quarter broadcast network net revenues from advertising sales by 32.6% from $2.1 billion to $2.8 billion, compared with the year-earlier period.
The figures, compiled by Ernst & Young, were released yesterday by the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association (BCFMA).
However, the BCFM reported that during the same period, other types of prime-time entertainment programming suffered declining revenues. With sports and news categories excluded from prime-time results, net revenues from advertising sales are down by 3.65% to $114 million. Other categories of programming have also shown declines. Daytime and children's shows saw declines in net revenue from airtime sales of 3.24% and 2.12%, respectively, no doubt reflecting the move of marketer money away from children's programming on the broadcast networks and toward targeted cable channels such as Viacom's Nickelodeon and the Walt Disney channel.
Marketers spent $1 billion on airtime advertising around sports programming during the quarter, which included NBC's Summer Olympics coverage, a 214% gain on the same period in 2003, although the figure is about on par with the comparable quarter during the 2000 Olympics. Back then, networks put net revenues from airtime sales at $1.1 billion, slightly more on broadcast network television sports.
On the news front, while cable news rivals such as Fox News, CNN and MSNBC have been increasing ad revenues and ratings due to their election coverage, the broadcast networks showed a 21% rise in ad revenue around news programming during the summertime presidential campaign period -- up from $119 million for the third quarter of 2003 to $144 million in 2004.
The report recorded network results at three networks, ABC, CBS, NBC, and found that total net revenues from airtime sales were up 15.7% for the first nine months of the year. News Corp.'s Fox, Viacom's UPN and Time Warner's WB were not counted.