Facebook’s North American ad revenue has overtaken the money traditional media companies like CBS, Disney and Comcast make with ads in the U.S. for the first time this year, according to an analysis from The Information. This could be another sign of trouble for traditional media, as advertisers are increasingly shifting their budgets from TV networks to digital.
Facebook generated $9.1 billion in ad dollars in North America during the first nine months of this year, according to SEC filings analyzed for the report. Comcast’s North America ad revenue for the same time frame was $7.6 billion; Disney followed closely with $6.7 billion, and CBS trailed with $5.4 billion. A year ago, Facebook was still behind Comcast, with both companies generating ad revenue of $5.5 billion and $6.6 billion respectively during the first three quarters of 2015.
It’s worth noting that even with its explosive growth, Facebook isn’t getting anywhere close to Google, which generated $21.5 billion with advertising in North America during the first three quarters of 2016.
Also, these numbers alone don’t say much about the financial health of the companies involved. Comcast has a highly profitable internet access business, and media companies like CBS generate a growing percentage of their revenue with retransmission fees paid by TV operators to carry their programming.
In fact, CBS saw its profits rise during the last quarter due to a 32 percent jump in retransmission and affiliate fees. However, the flip side of this coin is that CBS’s broadcast ad revenue declined by 2 percent.
Facebook’s ad revenue on the other hand has been skyrocketing in recent months. The company generated a total of $7 billion during its most recent quarter, up from $4.5 billion during the same time a year ago.