Sports leagues’ COVID-19 shutdowns cost networks more than $3 billion in advertising, but savings from rights fees and production costs reduced that to less than $1 billion. Meanwhile sales for the forthcoming NFL season, including the Super Bowl, are trending down, hampered by COVID uncertainty.
A dismal first quarter had auto spot spending down nearly 10% compared to the prior year because auto ad spending moves in lockstep with actual sales of cars and light trucks and those have been trending down. However, even though auto sales are down, they are still at a pretty high level and if 2019 results come in at 16.9 million as predicted, that’s up over 60% in 10 years.
Seven publicly traded station groups have registered double-digit gains year to date, and on a year-over-year basis, three stock prices have gained more than 50% — those of Scripps, Gray and Nexstar. The groups also blew the doors off of two major indices, generally outperforming both the Dow and S&P by wide margins. Kyle Evans, managing director of the technology/media practice at the Stephens Inc. financial services firm, breaks things down.
So-called vice products and services like medical marijuana, CBD, e-cigarettes, hard liquor and sports betting — especially sports betting — are finding growing acceptance on television, but broadcast TV still has various legal hurdles to overcome before they are a common sight.
Three streaming video subscriptions seems to be the ticket for cord cutters and binge watchers. But many consumers are beginning to feel weighed down by too many subscriptions, a new Deloitte survey finds.
Broadcasters, led by the NAB, are urging lawmakers to let the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization, or STELAR, expire on Dec. 31. STELAR is at the top of NAB’s legislative hit list in part because it has morphed into a tool that one company in particular — DirecTV — has been using to bypass stations and retransmission consent fees in up to a dozen markets. But of larger concern is that cable and satellite operators will use the legislation as a vehicle to weaken broadcasters’ retransmission consent rights.
Twenty-five of the 26 largest markets that now rely solely on Local People Meters are not expected to get the added benefit of Portable People Meters until January. “It’s a strange state of flux,” says Katz Media’s Stacey Schulman. “We’ve got multiple methodologies — different things added and subtracted. And a lot of data [for larger markets] that was supposed to be received in the summer will start to come out in January.”
Fox Television Stations is TVNewsCheck’s Station Group of the Year for 2018. On Wednesday, TVNewsCheck Publisher Kathy Haley presented the annual award to FTS CEO Jack Abernethy at a ceremony at TVNewsCheck’s TV2020 conference. Among the Big Four networks, Fox stands alone. It has a vision for its network and owned stations that goes beyond just doing more of the same. Increased live programming and more stations are central.
Dr. Steve Perry, Mel Robbins, Angie Martinez (above), Jaime Pressly, Finesse Mitchell, Tamron Hall, Kelly Clarkson and RuPaul are among those who are said to be working on first-run syndication projects.
CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN have sold some $2.1 billion in advanced advertising for their NFL broadcasts this season, down only slightly from $2.2 billion last season, despite players controversial anthem protests and declining ratings. “On a week-to-week basis, there is nothing as consistent as the NFL for advertisers,” says buyer Adam Schwartz of Horizon Media. “Nothing else on TV compares to it.”
Last year the casino/gambling sector’s ad spend was $3.9 billion for local and national media, a little over half of which was spent at the local level, according to Gordon Borrell. “Could it double? Possibly,” he says. TVB’s Steve Lanzano adds: “It could be a lot of money [for local TV], when you consider the money that companies like DraftKings and FanDuel spent years ago. The reality is you’ve got to keep people betting on your service.”
The Fox station group is adding more than 45 additional hours of news in 11 markets this year, but, say group execs, that doesn’t mean its interest in first-run shows is waning. On the contrary, says CEO Jack Abernethy (above), the group is depending on first-run more than ever and will be testing a “full slate” of new shows this summer and fall, including a dating show, a game show developed in house and a video clip show from Warner Bros.
A first look at Nielsen’s new methodology that rolls out in June shows gains for broadcasters in some key dayparts — especially lower-rated stations — but even more lift for cable channels. Also for stations, there’s an increase in younger viewers; a huge decrease in zero quarter hours; and much more stability in ratings data from one day to the next.
The business and TV station entrepreneur bought and merged his way to the top with Media General before it was absorbed by Nexstar in a big payday for Kim and his team last year. Now he’s gotten the band together again, and, with Deb McDermott, Stan Knott and Jim Carr, is back in play with his Standard Media buying nine stations being spun off by Sinclair. “I am in it for the long run; I want to be part of the big consolidation.”
Bonuses resulting from the Media General merger were part of the reason for higher executive compensation, with President-CEO Perry Sook’s climbing 1,173.5% from 2016.
President-CEO Adam P. Symson, President/Local Brian G. Lawlor, EVP-CFO Lisa A. Knutson and former EVP-CFO Timothy M. Wesolowski all received one-time retention bonuses in the wake of the retirement of former Scripps CEO Richard A. Boehne.
The company’s record revenue results in 2017 were the result of having newly acquired stations in the lineup, which didn’t activate bonuses. But that didn’t mean Hilton Howell Jr., James Ryan and Kevin Latek were hurting — they all got stock rewards.
Ad sellers — broadcasters and cable networks — are wading deeper into data pools so that they are helping advertisers and their agencies program-target their buys and avoid undervaluing their time.
Among other commission moves to lighten regulation on broadcasters, a suggestion by Commissioner Michael O’Rielly to study whether the E/I rules are still necessary is being seen by some as a trial balloon. Broadcasters would welcome such a move and have offered specific suggestions. Above, Litton Entertainment’s Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown has been an E/I staple since 2011.
Once again, the new first-run offerings are slim as stations are mostly content with what’s working for them. The big question is whether Harry will be back for a third season. While some syndicators have new entries for sale, only one new show has so far found a station launch group (Fox) that virtually assures its debut this fall. That is Debmar-Mercury’s new court show Caught in Providence (AP photo/Michelle R. Smith).
Aiming to jump-start automated buying in broadcasting, Publicis Media’s Frank Friedman is on track to spend $50 million this quarter in up to 60 markets with the WideOrbit automation platform and the support of the two major TV rep firms. “If we don’t push [automation] forward, we see a conflict coming our way, which is extinction,” he says.
The forecast of double-digit growth in spot revenue next year, the consensus of station groups and industry watchers surveyed by TVNewsCheck, is due almost entirely to expectations of heavy political advertising. Otherwise, ad sales will be flat with the auto, retail and fast food providing drags on the top line.