What Did Film Studios Spend on TV Advertising in 2018?

January 2, 2019

By Wayne Friedman

Theatrical movie TV advertising spending for 2018 was virtually the same versus the year before -- this against 7% more in U.S. box office revenue for movie studios.
U.S. TV ad spending on theatrical movies last year totaled $2.45 billion, according to iSpot.tv estimates -- nearly identical to 2017's estimate of $2.5 billion. Some 472,172 national/regional airings of movie commercials ran last year. In 2017, 518,000 airings.

U.S. box-office revenues are estimated to total $11.82 billion, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, up from $11.07 billion the year before.

Universal Pictures was the single-biggest studio spender, according to iSpot -- $468.1 million, coming from some 73,802 airings of 136 different movie commercials. Warner Bros. was next at $381.9 million, with 56,913 airings (107 commercial spots).

Sony Pictures Entertainment's Columbia Pictures was at $259.5 million with 56,684 airings (100 spots), followed by 21st Century Fox at $209.1 million with 42,899 airings (81 spots); Paramount Pictures at $190 million with 36,537 airings (70 spots); and Lionsgate at $134.8 million with 20,249 (51 spots).

Walt Disney, which easily beat all other studios in total 2018 U.S. box-office revenues with $3 billion, was at $312.1 million in total TV spending and 53,585 commercial airings.

Under the Walt Disney Pictures banner, estimates were that it spent $117.7 million, with 21,050 airings (34 spots), while its Marvel division was at $96 million, 13,490 airings (42 spots); and Lucasfilm at $33.4 million, 5,253 airings (24 spots); Walt Disney Animation, $33 million, 6,276 airings (16 spots); Disney Pixar, $32.7 million, 7,516 airings (17 spots).

Other related studio businesses included Universal's Focus Features at $56 million, 20,041 airings (32 spots), Warner Bros. Animation with $33.3 million, 7,867 airings (14 spots), and Fox Searchlight Pictures at $27 million, 5,494 airings (11 spots).

Movie spending estimates here do not include third-party consumer advertisers, which typically co-brand with many big wide-release film titles.

Individual cable networks posted the highest number of commercial airings -- anywhere from 13,000 to a high of 18,000 during the year. This includes E!, Comedy Central, Bravo, FX, VH1, BET, Disney Channel, TNT, USA Network and ESPN.

Big broadcast airings in 2018 included NBC with 4,236; ABC at 3,351; CBS with 2,647; and Fox at 2,209.


"What Did Film Studios Spend on TV Advertising in 2018?" MediaPost, 1/2/19.

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