SMI: National TV Ad Spending Flat in Second Quarter

News programming revenue rises 16%

National TV advertising spending was basically flat in the second quarter, according to the latest figures from research company Standard Media Index.

SMI said TV spending was down 0.8% from a year ago, with cable networks dropping 4% and broadcast networks up 4% in the quarter. The swing to broadcast from cable largely reflects the shift in the Final Four of the men’s college basketball tournament to CBS from Turner in April.

In June, the national TV market was down 0.5%, with broadcast off 2% and cable edging up 0.4%.

A large part of broadcast’s decline was caused by comparisons with last year, when the Copa América Centenario aired on Univision. Without the soccer tournament, Univision’s revenue was down 35%. Taking Univision out of the equation, the other broadcast networks registered a 2% increase in June, led by Fox, which was up 9% thanks to increased spending on the U.S. Open.

News ratings were big during the quarter, and ad revenue followed. Ad spending in news programming on broadcast and cable was up 16%, according to SMI. The cable news networks registered an 18% gain, with MSNBC jumping 40%, CNN rising 21% and Fox News Channel up 11%.

The most expensive spots on cable news aired during FNC's Tucker Carlson Tonight, which replaced The O'Reilly Factor after Bill O'Reilly's departure. Units averaged $13,799, up 13% from what The O’Reilly Factor cost a year ago. Ad revenue for FNC's Hannity was up 53% as the price of 30-second spots rose 59% to $11,237 from a year ago.

Ad revenue generated by CNN’s The Situation Room rose 33%, and The Lead With Jake Tapper was up 46%.

MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show was up 74% in revenue as unit costs rose 60% to $4,193 per 30 seconds. The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell’s revenue was up 82% in the quarter.

For the quarter, the biggest ad revenue gains in cable were at HGTV,up 15%; E!, up 8%; and Food Network, up 2%.

ESPN was down 10%, and general entertainment networks including AMC, TBS, A&E and USA showed smaller declines.