Needham and Co.: TV Advertising Not ‘Leaking’ Online

BOSTON—TV is losing little ground to the Internet in the way of ad spending, according to Needham & Co.’s Laura Martin. TV advertising in the U.S. will rise by $2.2 billion in 2014 compared to digital ad spending, which will rise by $1.8 billion.

“Despite the devastation wrought by digital platforms to the newspaper and music ecosystems, there is little evidence of economic leakage from the U.S. TV ecosystem,” Martin writes. “For example, total U.S. TV revenue will reach approximately $76 billion in FY14, 20 percent above FY11 levels, for the content companies we cover.”

TV’s total 2014 is pegged at $68.5 billion, up 3.3 percent from 2013, according to figures Needham obtained from New York-based eMarketer.

Total 2014 digital video ad spending in the United States is expected to reach $6 billion, up 43 percent. Prices are higher for digital video ads, adding 10 to 20 percent to total economics, she said.

“The ad-spending gap is widening, despite the nascence of digital platforms,” Martin said.

“Rapid growth of mobile devices is creating demand for short-form digital video content, which is fueling the growth of a parallel video ecosystem that, so far, appears to be additive,” she said. “For example, World Cup streaming added 12 percent to TV audiences and 15 percent to economics for Univision. Innovative new digital companies will add $4 billion of subscription revenue plus $2.5 billion in advertising revenue to U.S. TV economics in 2014, by our estimates.”

Despite Martin’s observation that online video now seems to be “additive” to legacy TV distribution operations, she said the potential for disruption keeps Needham analysts “up at night.” That, and dual-revenue stream operations being reduced to single revenue streams.

On the upside, she said, “We are most excited about new OTT experiments by TV content creators designed to garner global revenue streams with an annuity stream business model and a direct relationship with consumers. “

Martin also noted that the Aereo decision “shifts power toward content and away from technology.

“Because we believe hit content is the core value-driver for any media ecosystem, an improved outlook for content economics makes us more optimistic about total digital video economics.”