Private conventional ad revenue down, CBC’s up: CRTC report

The CRTC's 2016 financial summaries for private conventional television and the CBC show drops in local and national ad sales across conventional networks.
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Revenue for private conventional TV fell in 2016, but the CBC’s went up, according to numbers from the CRTC.

Conventional TV revenue has slid each year since 2012, last posting an increase in 2011.

Private conventional TV

Total revenue for private conventional TV in 2016 clocked in at $1.68 billion, a 4.51% drop from 2015. Advertising revenue dropped for both local (down 4.56%, now at $315.08 million) and national sales (down 4.49%, totalling $1.24 billion). Syndication revenues were also down 4.48%, and totalled $98.88 million for the year. Infomercial revenue rose slightly (0.03%) to $14.29 million.

Most individual markets saw losses in both local and national sales. The biggest drop came in the Atlantic region, which saw a decrease of 15.47% in national revenue (closing the year at $19.5 million). However, the region also saw the largest increase in national sales, rising 3.59% (totalling $42.69 million).

Programming expenses for conventional TV overall went down 5.15%, and totalled $1.29 billion. Spend on Canadian-specific productions was reduced by 3.42%, landing at $633.29 million. Overall, Canadian productions represented 49% of conventional TV’s production spend for 2016.

Private conventional TV saw an operating loss of $30.26 million, with a negative profitability margin of 1.8%. That number was less drastic than 2014 and 2015, which were negative 2.3% and 3.4%, respectively.


Meanwhile, the CBC saw a total revenue increase of 7.04%, totalling $1.18 billion in 2016. Although local time sales and syndication revenues were down (11.84% and 26.23%, respectively), growth in national time sales and other revenue drove the overall increase. National sales revenue rose to $222.5 million (a 30.44% increase), while other revenue (which included parliamentary appropriation) came to $853.18 million (up by 6.94%).

The biggest ad revenue loss for the CBC in 2016 came from local ad sales in Ontario, where revenue dropped 22.25% (totalling $10.27 million). The biggest gains were also in the Ontario market but for national sales (a 72.82% increase, with revenue sitting at $117.07 million).

Total programming expenses were $743.08 million, up 8.12% from 2015. Of these costs, $635.09 million were Canadian programming expenses (up 13.98%). Staff costs reduced slightly to $511.09 million, largely the result of a staff count reduction of 218 (a 4.2% decrease). The average staff salary was $102,496, up just below $2,000 from 2015.

This resulted in an operating income of $126.42 million and a surplus of $36.69 million, the pubcaster’s first surplus in at least four years. Overall, CBC’s operating margin for profitability was 10.7%, up from 7.5% the previous year.

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