Hope For TV Budgets: Auto Sales Recover In '11

While the financial markets continue in turmoil, TV station owners can take heart that their biggest advertising category continues to recover with some sales strength.

In September, U.S. major automakers witnessed big gains -- General Motors sales were up 20% during the period; Chrysler Group picked up 27%; and Ford Motor Company, gained 9%.

On the downside, big Japanese-based companies -- Toyota Motor Company and Honda Motor -- were down 17.5% and 8%, respectively. Much of this is due to lingering effects from the March earthquake in Japan.

Other imports followed that of the U.S. automakers -- Nissan Motors sales saw a gain of 25% and Volkswagen AG improved 36%.

Initial reports put industry sales on track to near or above 13 million vehicles for 2011, at the high end of the range of forecasts. It would be the strongest sales rate since April.

In 2010, U.S. automakers recovered, selling many automobiles and spending plenty on marketing -- up over 20% in media spend and more versus the dismal, recessionary 2009. For the first half of this year, automotive spending was down 5.2% to $1.12 billion versus $1.18 billion a year ago, according to the TV station's advertising group, TVB.



Overall, total TV media spend in the first half of the year inched up 1.8%.

Analysts say despite fears of a renewed downturn and volatile financial markets in September, U.S. auto sales were lifted by the return of customers, who had been putting off replacing aging vehicles since the industry's downturn began in 2008.

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