Standard Media Index is now a Guideline company. Learn more

US Ad Market Has a Strong November – Digital, National TV, OOH and Radio All See Growth

Standard Media Index (SMI), the advertising intelligence company bringing clarity to the ad industry, today unveiled updated advertising revenue figures for November 2017. In November 2017, the total advertising market was up +5%. Digital continues to increase with +9% more spend in the month. A +14% increase in out-of-home, and +2% increases in both National TV and Radio, contributed to the overall positive ad market as well. With just one month left in the year, we looked at overall ad market growth year-to-date (Jan – Nov) which continues to trend positive at +4%. While Digital is carrying the overall market with a +12% increase year-to-date, out-of-home is also up +3%. This includes both traditional out-of-home, and digital out-of-home components.


In November 2017, the National TV market was up +2% with Cable seeing a +3% increase and Broadcast, registering a +1% increase. The year-to-date market continues to hover at around -3% with Cable down -2 and Broadcast down -4%.

Across the National Television market in November 2017 Entertainment programs saw +1% more advertising spend, Sports saw +5% and News continues to grow at +1%. Looking at the same breakdown year-to-date, or Jan-Nov, Entertainment programming is currently down -1%, compared to the same period in 2016, and Sports is down -11% – this is mostly due to the Olympics in 2016. The shining star of 2017 has been, and continues to be, News, which is currently up +8% year-to-date.


The overall +8% year-to-date growth on news programming increases to +14% when you look at news programs on the three big cable networks, FOX News, CNN and MSNBC. That then increases to a +15% more spend when you look at the twelve-month period on those networks since the November 2016 election (Dec. 16 – Nov. 17 vs. Dec.15 – Nov.16). While you expect a double digit increase during an election year, seeing Cable News continue to grow was certainly unexpected.

By network, FOX News has increased revenue +12% looking at that same twelve-month period in comparison to that timeframe in 15/16. CNN similarly saw +15% and MSNBC has seen an astounding +26% increase during that period. It must be noted however, that MSNBC had the farthest to climb, since by volume it is still lower than its competitors.

Looking at the same time period, the average cost of a :30 second spot during Prime Time (7 pm – 10:59 PM) has grown for each network. FOX News now sees $8,286 compared to $7,843 before the election. CNN went from $5,122 to $5,467 and MSNBC, saw the biggest growth going from $2,553 to $3,139. This jump in unit cost, also illustrates why MSNBC’s growth seems more profound over the past year.

Looking specifically at November 2017, year-over-year, across the big three networks – cable news increased +3%. FOX News carried the bunch at +9% across news programming. CNN is up +1%, while MSNBC is down for the second month in a row at -8%. As we noted last month, while MSNBC is down, it also had the starkest increases during the election.


Since the NFL kicked off on Sept. 7, 2017 through the end of November, 2017 – the networks that air nationally televised NFL games have seen a +2% increase in advertising revenue. This is mostly due to the schedule, as during that period in 2017, there has been one additional nationally aired linear TV game compared to the same time period in 2016.

Interestingly, the percent of ADUs, or makegoods, has decreased slightly through the first three months of the 2017 season, compared to 2016. In 2016 22% all spots were ADUs, while only 21% have been ADUs in 2017. This represents percentage of ADUs across all networks that air games. Similarly, the average cost of a :30 second spot across all networks has increased slightly from $468,434 in 2016 to $473,775 in 2017.

Breaking down spend in the first three months of the season by advertiser categories, we see that Auto has decreased its spend on NFL games by -4%, Telecommunications has decreased by -8% and Financial Services has decreased by -6%. But, many large advertiser categories have also increased spend. Consumer Electronics added +4%, Quick Serve Restaurants increased its spend by +11%, Insurance has added an incredible 41% more spend to the market, and Alcoholic beverage is not far behind with a +23% increase.

All of the above represents in-game advertising, and does not include pre, or post, game spend.


The +1% increase on Broadcast stems directly from Sports, which registered a +5% increase in Nov 2017, year-over-year. Entertainment and News genres both saw decreases, -2% and – 3%, respectively. Across the big four networks NBC saw a +16% increase, CBS saw a +1% increase, ABC decreased -5% and FOX saw a -13% decrease in spend, mostly around its entertainment programs.

The increase on Sports comes from additional spend on NCAA Football, and NFL. NCAA specifically grew +23% on broadcast, mostly due to a much more robust schedule on FOX, which nearly doubled the number of nationally aired games in 2017 compared to 2016. The NFL also saw one extra Thursday night game in November 2017, due to an extra Thursday in the month.

On the Entertainment front, while the total market declined, NBC had a fantastic November 2017. Its entertainment programming increased nearly +12%. Not only did This Is Us see a double digit increase in revenue, but so did the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and The National Dog Show, giving the network a big bump. The other major broadcast networks all saw a decrease in spend around their entertainment programming.


In November 2017, Cable again saw increases across all three major programming genres. By network, ESPN continues to be the largest network in terms of spend by volume, and saw a +3% increase in November, year-over-year. TBS and HGTV both saw a +7% increase in spend, Nickelodeon increased by +4% and AMC increased by +7%. Of the top ten cable networks by volume, the only network to see a decrease in ad spend was TNT.


Looking at advertiser categories across National TV, both the Auto industry and Pharma-Prescription were flat. Insurance, on the other hand, increased spend by +18%, Telecommunications increased spend by +9% and Food, Produce and Dairy increased by +1%. Traditionally strong November advertisers like Specialty Retailers, Consumer Electronics and Toys & Video Games decreased advertising spend – -4%, -9% and -1%, respectively.

Standard Media Index is now a Guideline company

Learn more