Poltrack Sees 2% Drop in Broadcast Revenues
But long-term trends suggest 'golden era' for networks
By Jon Lafayette -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/3/2012 3:42:04 PM
CBS' chief research officer David Poltrack, giving his yearly forecast to the annual UBS Media and Communications conference in New York on Monday, said that new platforms and devices have begun creating create additional revenue streams for the broadcasters.
But for 2013, Poltrack said that broadcast network ad revenues would drop 2%. Excluding the effects of the Olympics, he said revenue would grow 2% in the first three quarters and 5% in the fourth quarter. He said growth would be higher in the fourth quarter because a "surging" scatter market will lead to a strong upfront, that there would be no political preemptions and that there would be no Olympics drawing fourth quarter money into the third quarter. For the full year, that translates into an underlying growth rate of 4%.
For 2012, Poltrack had forecast growth of 7.3%. "With three-quarters of the year accounted for, advertising revenue is running 11% ahead of 2011. I believe my 7.3% gain for the entire year looks solid," he said. "However the Olympics' contribution was larger than I expected, so the underlying growth rate should come in at about 4%."
Usually at this conference, Poltrack's role has been to defend the network and provide reasons to believe they are not media industry dinosaurs. In recent years, despite ratings erosion, CBS has increased its earnings thanks to digital distribution of its content, retransmission consent payments and reverse compensation from affiliates.
On Monday, Poltrack said that a broadening view of broadcast will continue to make them look like winners.
"This year I'm going to go a little further than [usual]," he said. "I'm going to argue that the broadcast system may be entering a new golden era. An era in which its dominant position in the advertising market is enhanced as new distribution options create greater consumer access to its programming through several emerging platforms; where new analytical tools enable advertisers to use the medium more effectively and where its new revenue streams grow from formative to substantial."
Poltrack argued that the early returns from the new broadcast season are not giving an accurate picture of the broadcasters' vitality. Disruptive factors making comparisons from last year difficult include the fact that several programs launched before the start of the broadcast season on air, online and on VOD. Another was that the season started a week later, cutting the pre-baseball segment to just one week. Viewing was also disrupted by election pre-emptions and by Hurricane Sandy, which cause programs to be pre-empted and prevented those without power from watching.
"The bottom line is results are not indicative of how this season will progress," he said.
But those early results have revived myths about the broadcast business, including the notion that young people aren't watching broadcast shows.
Poltrack had two responses. One is that the population of 18 to 49 year olds is down, which means that even without a change in viewing ratings in that demo would be off by 1.4%. The second is that younger viewers are watching in way that Nielsen doesn't measure, including online streaming, VOD and DVR viewing beyond seven days after air.
At this point, Poltrack said CBS is earning more revenue from viewers who watch online than those who watch on air. And VOD viewers, who often cannot skip commercials, are more valuable than those who use DVRs. (While Poltrack said there appeared to be evidence of cord-cutting, he noted that Netflix streaming wasn't a competitor for the networks. Instead he said Netflix is replacing time that had been spent watching DVDs.)
Poltrack added that while the demographics of 18-49 year old viewers and 25-35 year-old viewers remain the dominate currency for media buying, more advertisers are using more sophisticated measurements for media selection. The net of that is that advertising rates are rising for shows with more viewers in the 55 to 65 year age range, where not coincidentally, CBS is tops.
In addition to more viewing, social media and second screen apps are tightening the connection between advertiser messages building awareness and viewer purchases and creating more potential for transactional revenue.
No related content found.
No Top Articles
Digital Rapids provides market-leading software and hardware solutions, technology and expertise for transforming live and on-demand video to reach wider audiences on the latest viewing platforms more efficiently, more effectively and more profitably. Empowering applications from..more