`Big Three' primetime revenue down


ABC, CBS and NBC showed a 22 percent drop in prime time revenue to $1.16
billion for the first quarter, according to data compiled by Ernst & Young
and released by the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association.

In fact, every daypart but Olympic Games-driven sports was down in the
quarter, although the Olympics money offset the declines and the quarter overall
showed a 3 percent-plus gain for the 'Big Three.'

The sports category was up 66 percent to $1.2 billion, with $720 million of
that accounted for by the Salt Lake City Olympics.

Without the Games, the sports category would have been roughly $515 million,
or down about 40 percent from last year. That would have dragged the overall
market down about 14 percent to a little under $2.5 billion.

BCFM president Buzz Buzogany noted that the prime time drop was somewhat
exaggerated because some of that decline was due to dollars displaced by the
Olympics money. But part of the drop was also due to what BCFM characterized as
the 'extremely soft advertising marketplace.'

Olympics money also displaced revenue in late-night, which was down 14
percent to $118 million.

Daytime was also down sharply, by almost $30 million, or 12 percent, to $203
million. News was down almost 10 percent to $123 million.