Study: US broadcasters face heavy strike-related losses

July 31, 2023

Findings from advertising intelligence and sales enablement platform MediaRadar reveal the potential financial challenges that may arise as a result of the Hollywood actors and writers’ strike.

TV advertising up until June 2023 amounted to over USD 26 billion (EUR 23.5 billion), representing contributions from more than 8500 brands. MediaRadar’s research reveals that talk shows, soap operas, and sitcoms accounted for 9 % or USD 2.36 billion—of TV ad expenditure in the first half of 2023. This figure is already a 5 % decrease compared to H1 of the previous year.

Advertising slots are typically booked one-to-three months ahead, sometimes even earlier. Coupled with many programmes being on summer break at the moment, the full effects of the ongoing strike are yet to be discerned, suggests MediaRadar.

The potential loss is considerable. The strike could significantly impact broadcasters. MediaRadar’s data suggests that the key ad revenue streams of broadcasters—namely TV sitcoms and soap operas that have demonstrated year-over-year advertising growth from H1 2022 to H1 2023 – face a potential financial setback resulting from the absence of new programming.

Ad revenue for TV soap operas climbed from USD 101.5 million in H1 2022 to USD 118.6 million in H1 2023, indicating a 17 % year-over-year increase. TV sitcoms also saw an increase, moving up from USD 1.9 billion in H1 2022 to USD 2.2 billion in H1 2023, marking a 16 % rise year-over-year.

Conversely, TV talk shows experienced a minor decline in ad spend by 1 per cent—from USD 478.2 million in HU 2022 to USD 474.9 million in H1 2023. Primetime TV programming witnessed a more substantial drop of 15 % from USD 13.1 billion in H1 2022 to USD 11.2 billion in H1 2023. Despite these reductions, both remain crucial sources of revenue for broadcasters and are sectors that will endure the financial implications of the strike.

“TV broadcasters could be hit hard if this strike continues for many more months,” said Todd Krizelman, CEO, MediaRadar. “Lucrative late night talk shows specifically have been off the air already for a couple months. Soon, fall programming, including talk shows, soap operas, and primetime sitcoms should air. However, that is likely to be delayed since they rely on writers throughout the summer for scripts.”