Quieter, Softer Network Scatter


The fourth-quarter scatter market is down double digits, perhaps as much as 35%, largely because advertisers spent the money in this year's upfront market, hoping to avoid the steep price increases the networks achieved the previous two years.

"The dam hasn't broken," notes Andy Donchin, SVP/director, national broadcast, Carat. "Money hasn't been pouring in, and scatter looks quieter and softer."

Peggy Green, president, national broadcast, Zenith, agrees. "Scatter is not robust and looks dicey in the fourth quarter. Plus, we're coming into repeats in December. The negative news is the nets aren't writing the dollars they want. The positive news is that advertisers will be getting inventory back and there'll be no [make-good] holes on under-delivery. In the past, people were owed time and didn't get it."

Notes Brad Adgate, SVP/director of broadcast research, Horizon Media, "CBS is doing pretty well, and NBC continues to lead in 18-49. But, with the exception of CBS, there's been erosion among all of them. The big loser is Fox. With Skin
and Luis
gone and Joe Millionaire
a huge disappointment, they have three nights—Monday, Thursday and Friday—that need to be revamped."

According to Television Bureau of Advertising estimates of CMR MediaWatch data, network TV saw a 5.3 % increase in ad revenues in the third quarter, but year-to-date gains dropped to 2.7%. Broadcast Financial Management Association reports a 2.8% drop year-to-date 2003 vs. '02. Both reports cite tough comparisons with Olympics and election year 2002.