Impact on the Media

BLACKOUT COSTS TV STATIONS MILLIONS IN LOST AD REVENUE

May Also Impact Some Nielsen Ratings

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LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- The catastrophic electrical failure that darkened the northeastern U.S. on Thursday has thus far cost TV companies millions in lost ad revenue, according to media-buying executives.
Photo: AP
The outage that darkened New York spots like Rockefeller Center, shown here, also cut off TV sets in some of the country's largest markets.
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According to the executives, broadcast stations have collectively lost $10 million to $20 million in national and local advertising time as they were forced to replace regularly scheduled programming with continuous all-news coverage.

Nielsen ratings
The blackout may also impact Nielsen TV audience ratings because TV sets across such a wide area were rendered inoperative by the emergency that enveloped some of the country's largest metro markets.  

All major TV networks aired about three hours of sustaining news coverage with no commercials starting shortly after the blackout hit. Much of the advertising revenue losses have affected local stations and syndicated TV programming, because networks don't run programming or advertising time in those early evening time periods.  

For the rest of the evening in prime-time, stations on the East Coast -- especially in New York, Detroit, Buffalo, Albany and Cleveland -- devoted more hours to news coverage, with some commercials airing.

ABC had most news
At 8 p.m. ET, all networks, except for ABC, carried their regularly scheduled programming. ABC devoted the most time to news coverage in prime time -- especially on the East Coast. It ran two special live Primetime Thursdays and two special live Nightline with Ted Koppel shows. According to executives, ABC ran some, but not all, commercials that were regularly scheduled.

NBC during prime time had commercials airing, but not its full load, according to a spokeswoman. Fox had an hour or so of commercial-free news coverage after the blackout, taking the feed from its Fox News Channel. In prime time, five of its East Coast affiliates continued with local news. Some network spokespersons couldn't comment about lost advertising revenue.

TV network buying executives also said that due to the blackout, some of Nielsen Media Research's local and national ratings were likely to be affected, especially in the big markets of New York, Detroit and Cleveland. Efforts to reach Nielsen executives were not successful due to continued communications problems caused by the blackout in New York.

'The TV sets weren't on'
Media executives expect local spot TV buyers have the most to lose. Local media buys do not offer ratings guaranteed. "This will show up in the ratings for sure," said Rick Oster, vice president and general sales manager for Adlink, Los Angeles. "The TV sets weren't on."

"We'll probably underdeliver a little bit," said Geoff Robison, senior vice president of national broadcast for Palisades Media Group, Santa Monica, Calf.. Palisades had bought time for Miramax Film's My Boss's Daughter, which will premiere Aug. 22.

More pressing was that other movies opening today -- Open Range, Uptown Girls and Freddy vs. Jason -- had some of their media buys affected since the blackout occurred on a Thursday, one of the most crucial days for a movie's media plan.

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