Broadcast network revenues will rise 6% in 2014, according to David Poltrack, chief research officer for CBS.
Speaking at UBS’s 41st Annual Global Media and Communications Conference, Poltrack offered an upbeat forecast, calling this a golden age for broadcasters, thanks to the new ways they can distribute and monetize content and emerging research that confirms the effectiveness of TV advertising.
Poltrack said next year is an Olympic year, and taking out the NBC coverage, broadcast revenue growth would be about 4%
Last year, Poltrack predicted that broadcast revenues would fall 2% in 2013. Taking out the 2012 Olympics, the growth rate was 3%. Speaking Monday, Poltrack said he was sticking with the projection, though the year might finish a half point higher or lower. Scatter, he said, has been hard to read.
Poltrack said that the 2014 season has gotten off to a good start for the broadcasters, with primetime viewership up, demos and commercial ratings stable and each networks having launched a show with hit potential. “Sampling is up of new series,” he said.
Viewership is also growing in other dayparts, including news and daytime, he said.
The broadcasters have also increased their share against cable, said Poltrack, pointing to a ratings decline in all but three of the top 10 cable networks.
More and more viewing is coming from non-linear post-broadcast form. Growth in DVR penetration has slowed but DVR playback has picked up as older viewers use their DVRs more. At the same time, VOD and streaming viewing is up. With streaming broadcasters are able to connect with younger viewers. Poltrack said the average age of the viewers watching its shows online was 40, 16 years younger than on air viewers. And he added that those viewers are fully monetized.
The playback also benefits broadcast because two-thirds of delayed viewing is of network shows, while 39% of live viewing goes to cable.
“If broadcasters were startups, they would be the talk of Wall Street, Madison Avenue and Hollywood,” he said.