The Big Four broadcast networks will be up 4% in ad revenue in 2003, according to David Poltrack, CBS executive vice president, research and planning.
The first quarter will be the weakest, he said at the UBS Warburg media conference in New York last week, due to the comparison with this year's first quarter, which had the winter Olympics. So Olympic year to non-Olympic year, it may be down 10%.
But the second and third quarters will be up in the 7%-8% range, and the fourth quarter should be the strongest, posting a 10% or better gain.
Next year's strong fourth quarter will be driven by what Poltrack sees as another very strong network upfront ad market next spring.
This year, he said the networks will post a 6% revenue gain (vs. a 10% drop for 2001).
A 6% gain this year and the 4% Poltrack expects in 2003 would bring the networks back to where they were in 2000.
Currently, said Poltrack, the networks are benefiting from heated competition in several categories, particular among P&G's Swiffer dusting product, Mop'n Glow's Wet Wipes and Clorox's Ready Mop. The category is up 266% this year. Another battle is expected next year when allergy medicine Claritin moves to over-the-counter sales, Poltrack said.
Although next year will be better than this year, 2004 should be better still, Poltrack said. "Barring long-term economic disruptions, we should enter 2004, an Olympic and election year, with positive momentum. While 2002 turned out to be a good year, 2003 should see a continuation of that direction, and 2004 should be a great year."