While the major broadcast networks enjoyed incredible CPM and ad volume gains during the upfront marketplace that preceded the 2003-04 TV season, the first month of the first quarter of the network fiscal year saw total ad volume - as measured by the supply of network TV ad minutes -decline 8.1 percent from October 2002.
The decline in network ad inventory was met by an even steeper decline in demand from network advertisers. During October, the number of advertisers buying network TV dropped 10.5 percent from October 2002.
Paradoxically, demand for ad inventory on local TV stations appears to be building. The amount of ad time sold by stations in the markets tracked by Monitor-Plus rose 10.5%. The number of advertisers using spot TV rose 7.6% over October 2002.
The patterns are similar to what Monitor-Plus has found through 2003. Through the first eight months of 2003, the supply of network ad inventory has fallen 6.8 percent, while the supply of national spot TV ad inventory rose 1.8%.
The data also shows a slight rise in demand for Hispanic TV networks, which have been one of the fastest growing segments of the TV business. The supply of Hispanic network ad units rose 2.1 percent, while the number of advertisers buying Hispanic network TV climbed 5.2 percent over October 2002.
While it is well known that demand for broadcast network inventory ebbed during the first quarter, network executives report it has picked up for the first quarter 2004 scatter marketplace, with cancellation options holding relatively firm, sellout levels high and prices fetching high single digits gains over upfront ad rates.