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Despite Pandemic, TV Ad Revenues Shine In 2020

Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic had a big impact on local television revenues in 2020. But the 2020 elections ultimately kept the industry in a good position by year’s end.

That’s the conclusion from new data released today by BIA Advisory Services.

According to its 2021 Investing In Television Market Report, over-the-air (OTA) revenue reached $18.3 billion last year.

Add in $1.4 billion from digital revenue, and the grand total for 2020 is $19.7 billion. This reflects a rise from $18.3 billion in 2019.

Political advertising accounted for $4.4 billion in 2020 to deliver what BIA calls “a softer landing to an otherwise negatively impacted industry.”

What was the year-over-year dip for core advertising? It was bad. But, it could’ve been worse. OTA revenue minus political advertising drove industry revenues down negative 23.1%, similar to the COVID-19 impact on broadcast radio.

But, BIA predicts the rebound will “slightly begin” this year, with OTA advertising expected to rise 5.4% on revenue of $14.9 billion for 2021. In 2022 total local over the air station revenues are forecasted at $17.8 billion.

“This past year demonstrated that local television stations are doing the right thing by continuing to strengthen their digital and multi-media sales efforts,” said Dr. Mark Fratrik, SVP and chief economist at BIA Advisory Services. “They also need to continue to develop strategies that incorporate over-the-top (OTT) sales to reach specific audiences, while simultaneously reaching the broader local viewers. OTT increasingly is becoming a competitive and complementary advertising platform for local television station operators.”

While auto and general services dollars are expected to bounce back for TV, growth in core

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