Average audience decreased by 15 percent in 2017 over the previous year, with evening news remaining stable — though late night and early evening declined by seven percent, and midday declined four percent. (The data comes from ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates.) Partly because it wasn’t an election year (when political advertising bumps up the airwaves’ coffers), total over-the-air ad revenue for local TV decreased by 13 percent, to $17.4 billion. Online, advertising for local TV stations inched up by three percent, to $1 billion.
But the lack of an election didn’t slow down the political advertising revenue too much. In 2017, $112 million came from political ads, compared to $124 million in 2015 and $50 million in 2013, the two most recent non-election years. (Those figures came from Tribune, Nexstar, Sinclair, Tegna, Gray, and Scripps.)
Revenue is increasingly coming from the retransmission fees that cable and satellite systems fork over to carry local channels. Revenue from those topped $9 billion in 2017 — up from $8 billion in 2016 — and it’s expected to keep growing.
READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE AT THE NIEMAN LAB AT HARVARD WEBSITE