CBS Predicts Big Gains for Broadcast Ad Sales in 2016

Broadcast Ad Revenue to Grow 9.5% in 2016, Network's Top Researcher Says

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Melissa Benoist as CBS's 'Supergirl.'
Melissa Benoist as CBS's 'Supergirl.' Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting

After predicting a flat broadcast ad market for 2015, CBS is bullish on ad sales in the New Year.

David Poltrack, chief research officer at the eye network, is forecasting a 9.5% surge in broadcast ad sales in 2016, and 5% growth when excluding any gains from the Olympics. Mr. Poltrack presented his outlook during UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York on Monday.

Mr. Poltrack even went so far as to say broadcasters could post double-digit percentage growth, which would be the first such gain since 2004.

"I realize this is a very bullish, contrarian forecast," he said.

By comparison, the most recent Global Entertainment and Media Outlook from PricewaterhouseCoopers predicted that broadcast TV, including both the national networks and local TV stations, would see ad revenue increase 5% in 2016 even with the Olympics and election season factored in. The broadcast networks themselves will see a 6.5% gain in 2016, PricewaterhouseCoopers said.

Some positive economic factors including increases in consumer spending and improved unemployment figures are helping to drive Mr. Poltrack's more bullish prediction, he explained at the UBS conference, adding that millennials are moving into a high-consumption stage of life.

"I also believe taking share from cable will be a major part of this," Mr. Poltrack said, pointing to ratings weakness at many big cable properties.

Mr. Potrack added that the industry is "moving from a total preoccupation with counting the house to a measurement of results." As a result, he said, more of the decision-marking is going to be in the media planning sector instead of the media buying sector, "and it's going to be done by using single-source data and relating results directly to advertising."

At the same conference last year, Mr. Poltrack said broadcast ad sales in 2015 would be flat in the first half of the year and then grow by 2% in the second half. He stood by this outlook at his presentation on Monday.

Mr. Poltrack said marketers are starting to refocus on TV after several years of preoccupation with digital advertising.

"This efficiency orientation has resulted in less effective TV campaigns that has not captured the full power of the medium in driving short-term sales and building long-term brand equity. My message to you today in both of these cases, is that change is now under way," he said.

On Monday, GroupM released its latest overall forecast, including a prediction that TV as a whole, spanning broadcast and cable, would grow 2.3%, including the Olympics and political spending, up from a flat performance this year.

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