CBS sees broadcast ads up in 2010

Researcher Poltrack sees 5% gain after 7% decline in 2009

NEW YORK -- Broadcast networks advertising revenue will be up 5% in 2010, or 3% on an underlying basis, CBS Corp. chief research officer David Poltrack predicted here Wednesday at the UBS Global Media & Communications Conference.

He predicted a healthier upfront market next year and said most of the gain he forecasts will be driven by the fourth quarter.

In his annual appearance, he confirmed his 2009 forecast for a 7% decline, or 5% on an underlying basis.

He said the current year is on track with his projection after earlier in the year looking too optimistic due to a difficult upfront ad sales season amid the recession.

Poltrack offered a lot of data along with some swipes at cable networks and NBC for not doing so well with new approaches to programming and business.

The CBS researcher argued that overnight ratings are no longer giving a full picture of viewership.

For example, all broadcast networks except for Fox are down in season-to-date ratings. But using Live-plus-7: ratings, CBS is also up for overall viewers, he said.

DVR replay now makes up one quarter of primetime viewing in key demos, according to Poltrack.

He also said that ad-supported cable network ratings are down season-to-date just like broadcast.

Poltrack opened his presentation by mentioning he just returned from China, quipping that the country's upfront selling process is more efficient than the drawn-out negotiation process in the U.S.

Upfront ad commitments were up 18% in China, and the upfront was completed in a single day, he said.

Poltrack on Wednesday also discussed the online video opportunity, saying Nielsen data shows that long-form viewing on the Web is up over the past year.

He also said his team's research is now concentrated on ad effectiveness of various distribution forms. He argued that the ad value of online viewing may over time match or exceed that of live viewing and DVR playback if online attracts premium rates due to higher efficiency and ad units are expanded.