TV Ad Spending Appears To Pass $70 Billion For The First Time, Sports Spending Also Growing

Total U.S. TV ad spending appears to have crossed the $70 billion mark for the first time in 2011, a year without a Presidential election or Olympics. Sports advertising also posted growth over a similar stretch, though surprisingly at about the same rate as the total market.

Sports spending (for network and cable), covering the 12-month period from October 2010 through September 2011, grew at a 6% rate to $10.9 billion.

That was slightly higher than the 5% bump for the full market to $71.8 billion for 2011, according to Nielsen figures. Nielsen numbers only go back five years, but 2011 looks to be the first time the market passed $70 billion.

With just the same 5% increase this year, ad spending would cross the $75 billion mark. With the Presidential election and London Olympics, if not President Obama winning, that appears to be as safe a bet as Michael Phelps doing so.

In 2010, all TV spending was $68.7 billion, good for an 8% increase as the market moved out of the depths of the recession. Sports advertising had a much more robust burst out of the recession, jumping 26% to $10.3 billion for the period from October 2009 to September 2010, compared to same 12-month period prior.



That may be a sign that marketers still tight with their dollars felt more confident investing in sports programming with viewer hunger for live programming and advertiser hunger to avoid DVR mischief.

In 2011, the total TV market eclipsed the 2008 level of $69.2 billion after two declining years. Those intervening years totaled $68.7 billion in 2010 and $63.7 billion in 2009.

The recession's effect on sports appears to have been felt most noticeably for the period running from October 2008 through September 2009, where there was a 16% drop compared to the same prior period.

Sports appears poised for significant growth going forward with NFL ratings robust and NBC making a concerted effort to upgrade the former Versus.

LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant turning into a multi-year war a la Magic vs. Bird might help. So should Tim Tebow.

If he is the New York Jets starter, the interest level is obvious. If he sits on the bench, the interest level is obvious: people will watch hoping the starter fails, so Tebow can play.

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