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Big 3 gain isn’t super

NEW YORK — The Big 3 networks eked out a modest 2.6% revenue gain for the first quarter, according to figures released Friday by the Broadcast & Cable Financial Management Assn.

Total net revenues topped out at $2.25 billion, tempered by the absence of big-event programming during the February sweeps and revenues from the Super Bowl. The football game — perennially the highest-grossing TV event — appeared this year on Fox, which isn’t a BCFM member, but was included in comparable totals for 1996, when it aired on NBC.

In the largest categories, first-quarter primetime sales were up 3.3%, to $1.07 billion, followed by sports, which rose 1.2% to $498.9 million. The daytime and children’s dayparts registered the only quarterly declines, with daytime down 0.5%, to $268.6 million, and kids down 9.3%, to $17.8 million.

Big 3 kidvid programming will “continue its downward trend as Fox, UPN and Warner Bros. continue to drain dollars away from the (other) networks,” BCFM prexy Buz Buzogany said.

Biggest gainers on a percentage basis were the ayem daypart, up 10.4% to $91.4 million, and latenight, up 4.3% to $106.8 million. News rose 3.3%, to $192.6 million.

The figures are net revenues, after advertising agency commissions are paid, and reflect only revenues posted by ABC, CBS and NBC.

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