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Network Scatter Records Slight Uptick

27 Mar, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – MediaPost reports that TV’s advertising scatter market – an oft-used predictor of how the summer upfront marketplace will perform – has been showing price gains for top TV networks.

All major networks have seen an uptick in scatter pricing versus that of the two previous quarterly periods – the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of this year – where scatter program pricing was predominantly weak.

Media-buying executives say ABC and Fox have been holding and getting scatter pricing for the second quarter around 10 percent above upfront prices – the CPMs set in June 2012. CBS and NBC are securing 5-percent hikes. Experts say CBS and NBC networks have generally a bit more inventory to sell than ABC and Fox.

One veteran media-buying executive is told MediaPost, “The [network] behavior has changed. It’s driven by a little more spending in the market – not a lot – and the ratings fallout, which has been huge factor.”

A network executive adds there is “healthy scatter [pricing] if you have the right programming.”

Cable networks are getting somewhat lower price gains – if any. “We’ve been able to get scatter inventory at upfront pricing levels, or a few percentage points higher,” says another veteran media-buying executive.

Many major networks have seen some significant rating declines versus a year ago. Overall, broadcast networks are down 4 percent among 18-49 viewers in C3 ratings through January because of the fall program gains at NBC.

Although NBC has had recent ratings troubles, it was still up around 19 percent among Nielsen 18-49 viewers for C3 ratings (commercial ratings plus three days of time-shifted viewing) through the end of January versus the same time period the year before. CBS was down 16 percent; Fox was off 14 percent; ABC lost 7 percent; and CW slipped 10 percent.

Media-buying executives say total scatter volume – actual dollars – is down versus a year ago. CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC, and CW spokespersons had no comment.

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