With earnings season just around the corner, analyst Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson Research says he expects network owners to report the first quarter of lower national ad revenue growth in nearly two years (down 1.4%).
Nathanson has mostly lowered his forecasts, now looking for broadcast advertising to fall 2.8% from a year ago and cable to slip 0.2%.
On the broadcast side, Fox got a boost from the Super Bowl, pushing it to a 48.9% gain. Conversely, CBS which had Super Bowl 50, is expected to be down 24.6%, although Nathanson says he has increased core growth to flat for the Tiffany Network.
The best performing cable groups are expected to be Scripps Networks Interactive and 21st Century Fox. Though Fox is getting a big boost from Fox News, ratings and revenues are down at its regional sports networks because of lower NBA ratings, Nathanson says.
AMC Networks and NBCU are expected to post 5% declines in ad revenue.
“We do project a return to modest growth throughout the year [excluding the effects of the Olympics in the third quarter], but given current ratings trends this could prove to optimistic,” Nathanson said.
In terms of earnings, Nathanson raised his estimates for CBS and AMC but lowered Disney, Scripps and Discovery.
(Photo via Pictures of Money's Flickr. Image taken on Sept. 17, 2015 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 9x16 aspect ratio.)