Nets’ primetime ad sales rise

ABC, CBS, NBC show big gains in primetime, latenite

With the upfront ad sales market set to kick off in less than a week, the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Assn.’s latest quarterly revenue report offered up a mixed economic blessing for three broadcast networks.

According to BCFM’s report on first quarter 2003 figures compiled by Ernst & Young, overall ad revenues at ABC, CBS and NBC (Fox, WB and UPN do not participate in the survey) were down 11.3% in the first three months of the year to $2.6 billion. Primetime, however, staged a rally, gaining nearly 19% over last year to $1.37 billion. Latenight fared even better, gaining 24%.

But while news dayparts and ayem made 9.7% and 5.3% respective gains, sports advertising was the big loser, dipping 48% from 2002. Even compared with the more comparable, non-Olympic year of 2001, the falloff was 28%.

Better than expected

Given that the quarter hosted a war and lacked the fiscal boom of last year’s Winter Olympics, BCFM president Mary M. Collins said the numbers weren’t nearly as poor as many had expected.

“A primetime advertising gain of nearly 19%, amounting to nearly $220 million, is great news,” Collins said.

Children’s advertising on the top nets also declined, coming in 28% lower than in the year-earlier quarter.

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