Olympian falloff

Web revenue dives in quarter

NEW YORK — Third-quarter revenues for the Big Three broadcast networks suffered an Olympic-sized blow from weak comparisons with last year’s sports-fueled quarter.

Combined Big Three revenues fell 18.9%, to nearly $1.8 billion, according to figures released Thursday by the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Assn., a trade group of TV numbers-crunchers. The dropoff was due mostly to a 69% drop in the sports category, which shrank to $257.8 million from $828.5 million last year.

Primetime revenues actually gained 13.5%, to $892.3 million, as did the latenight, ayem and news categories, but “the numbers weren’t nearly strong enough to offset the tremendous impact of the Olympics,” said BCFM prexy Buz Buzogany.

The summer games “had an impact on every category this quarter,” Buzogany said. “In addition to (the Olympics’) domination of sports, it also preempted a lot of evening pro-gramming and was the subject of numerous special reports.”

All told, NBC’s 1996 Olympic haul was worth an estimated $680 million to the Peacock web, and political ads kicked in another $2.3 million to the networks for the prior-year period.

Among other dayparts, news sales rose 19%, to $201.5 million; latenight rose 20.2% to $109.7 million, thanks partly to the addition of ABC’s “Politically Incorrect With Bill Ma-her”; and ayem rose 12.3%, to $82.2 million. The children’s category had a more modest uptick, rising 6% to $16.3 million. Besides sports, the only other category loser was daytime, off 6% to $237.8 million.

For the year to date, Big Three revenues are off 4.8%, to $6.4 billion. Sports is down 33% for the first nine months, kids fare is down 3.7% and daytime is off 2%. The biggest gainers for the nine-month span are morning, up 17% over last year, and latenight, with a 10% gain, while primetime and news sales rose roughly 5% apiece.

Fox Broadcasting does not report its numbers to BCFM and is thus not included in the aggregate totals, which are compiled by the Ernst & Young accounting firm. But Fox’s gains relative to the Big Three skew the overall numbers, since it’s assumed that the News Corp. web has suc-ceeded in large part at the expense of its more established rivals.

Thus the reported declines, particu-larly in dayparts like sports and chil-dren, mask the overall health of the broadcast network biz, which counts not only Fox but the UPN and WB weblets among total revenues.

More TV

  • Gabrielle Carteris SAG AFRA PRESIDENT

    SAG-AFTRA Members Approve TV Animation Strike Authorization

    NEW YORK — Third-quarter revenues for the Big Three broadcast networks suffered an Olympic-sized blow from weak comparisons with last year’s sports-fueled quarter. Combined Big Three revenues fell 18.9%, to nearly $1.8 billion, according to figures released Thursday by the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Assn., a trade group of TV numbers-crunchers. The dropoff was due […]

  • Ryan Murphy Pose

    Ryan Murphy on 'Showrunning as Advocacy' and the Post-Me Too 'Age of Enlightenment'

    NEW YORK — Third-quarter revenues for the Big Three broadcast networks suffered an Olympic-sized blow from weak comparisons with last year’s sports-fueled quarter. Combined Big Three revenues fell 18.9%, to nearly $1.8 billion, according to figures released Thursday by the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Assn., a trade group of TV numbers-crunchers. The dropoff was due […]

  • Diego Luna Narcos: Mexico

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Offers First Look at 'Narcos: Mexico,' Trailer for Rev Run's 'All About the Washingtons'

    NEW YORK — Third-quarter revenues for the Big Three broadcast networks suffered an Olympic-sized blow from weak comparisons with last year’s sports-fueled quarter. Combined Big Three revenues fell 18.9%, to nearly $1.8 billion, according to figures released Thursday by the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Assn., a trade group of TV numbers-crunchers. The dropoff was due […]

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Virtual reality

    Nickelodeon's 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Go Virtual at Comic-Con

    NEW YORK — Third-quarter revenues for the Big Three broadcast networks suffered an Olympic-sized blow from weak comparisons with last year’s sports-fueled quarter. Combined Big Three revenues fell 18.9%, to nearly $1.8 billion, according to figures released Thursday by the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Assn., a trade group of TV numbers-crunchers. The dropoff was due […]

  • Destan Arslanoski Stunt Performer

    Stunt Performers Say There's Not Enough Being Done to Address Risks of the Job

    NEW YORK — Third-quarter revenues for the Big Three broadcast networks suffered an Olympic-sized blow from weak comparisons with last year’s sports-fueled quarter. Combined Big Three revenues fell 18.9%, to nearly $1.8 billion, according to figures released Thursday by the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Assn., a trade group of TV numbers-crunchers. The dropoff was due […]

  • Discovery Extends CEO David Zaslav's Contract

    Discovery Extends CEO David Zaslav's Contract Through 2023

    NEW YORK — Third-quarter revenues for the Big Three broadcast networks suffered an Olympic-sized blow from weak comparisons with last year’s sports-fueled quarter. Combined Big Three revenues fell 18.9%, to nearly $1.8 billion, according to figures released Thursday by the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Assn., a trade group of TV numbers-crunchers. The dropoff was due […]

  • Janina Gavankar

    Eka Darville, Janina Gavankar, Italia Ricci Join North Fork TV Festival Lineup

    NEW YORK — Third-quarter revenues for the Big Three broadcast networks suffered an Olympic-sized blow from weak comparisons with last year’s sports-fueled quarter. Combined Big Three revenues fell 18.9%, to nearly $1.8 billion, according to figures released Thursday by the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Assn., a trade group of TV numbers-crunchers. The dropoff was due […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content