Races Boost 'Big Three' Ad Bucks


The "Big Three" network combined ad revenue total for the third quarter of 2004 was $2.82 billion. That was up a whopping 32.61% ($694 million) over the third quarter of 2003, thanks mostly to two kinds of races: Olympic Games and political.

Sports advertising was up 214% over third-quarter 2003 to $1.03 billion, although that was below the $1.06 billion reached in the third quarter of the last Summer Olympic year of 2000.

According to the figures tallied by Ernst & Young and released by the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association (BCFM), revenue for the first nine months was 8.671 billion, up 15.78% from 7.489 billion in the first nine months of 2003.

News also was up strongly for the quarter and year-to-date, showing a 21.2% boost over 3Q 2003 to 1.44 million and up 5% vs. the first nine months, though that was vs. a non-election year in 2003.

BCFM President Mary Collins points out that 3Q ad revenues are up for the third year in a row.

The biggest gainer for the quarter among dayparts was morning, up 10% to $164 million. The biggest decline was in prime time, down 3.65% for the quarter to $1.14 billion, but that still was enough to help push the year-to-date number to $4.52 billion, $274 million ahead of last year at this time.

Daytime and children's time periods were also down for the quarter by 3.24% and 2.12%, repectively.

BCFM had delayed release of the numbers when some looked surprisingly close to earlier figures, but everything checked out, according to a spokesman.