Over the course of the 2014-15 broadcast season, digital media siphoned off more than $1 billion from the national TV market, with the vast majority of those dollars being drained out of the Big Four networks.
According to new research from Standard Media Index, about $1.1 billion in national TV spend was rerouted to digital, of which a staggering 87%, or $960 million, was plundered from broadcast. SMI tracked agency investments over a nine-month period spanning October to June, an interval that more or less corresponds with the broadcast calendar.
While the shift to digital accounts for a portion of the 8% annual decline in broadcast spend, endogenous factors (ratings declines, a weak fall scatter market, tricky year-to-year comps) played a role as well. For example, NBC's coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics generated $1.1 billion in ad revenue, while ESPN's stewardship of the FIFA World Cup netted $529 million in sales.
Ad-supported cable nets weren't subjected to the digital drain imposed on broadcast; per SMI, during a period in which overall spend in the segment was down 1%, cable ceded $140 million to new media.
All told, when local and syndication are tossed into the mix, digital leached $1.5 billion from traditional TV outlets.
For all its nibbling away at the $70.6 billion TV market, digital isn't thriving on mere vampirism alone. New business accounted for a $1 billion lift in digital spend, which was up 16% in the period.