Local TV Ads Surge Back In '10

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Confirming many reports of a strong comeback, local broadcast stations had a big 23.5% rise in 2010 advertising revenue versus the previous year.

Estimates from the TV stations' advertising group TVB, from data supplied by Kantar Media, said local broadcast TV rose to $15.6 billion. TV stations, however, are still down versus the $20 billion advertising totals of a few years ago.

National broadcast networks continue to have the greatest share of all TV ad dollars, gaining 5.7% in 2010 to $24.97 billion. Closing in on national broadcasters are national cable networks, which added 10.2% to $21.3 billion for the year.

Syndication TV slipped in 2010 -- 2.8%, to $4.1 billion -- partly reflecting lower-priced upfront deals set in 2009, in the midst of a weak ad market and a crushing economic recession.

As the economy improved, syndication did as well, recovering in the fourth quarter of 2010 -- the start of a new broadcast season -- gaining 14.7% to $1.2 billion versus the same period the year before.

The biggest improving national and local ad category was automotive advertisers -- rocketing up 53.7% to $2.6 billion. The second-biggest category, communications/telecommunications, was 14.7% higher to $1.5 billion. Restaurants were up 8.1% to $1.2 billion; political advertising had an eye-popping 598.8% gain to $763 million; and financial services grew 54.3% to $680 million.

The big single advertiser -- after political advertising -- was Chrysler Group LLC, up 66.0% to $371.3 million. AT&T improved 41.2% to $334.8 million; Ford Motor Dealers Association gained 45.2% to $324.5 million; and Toyota Motor Dealers Association was 55.2% higher to $313.2 million.

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