National TV Ads Weak In Q1, Digital Makes Big Gains

Although the first quarter of 2015 remains weak for national TV advertising, the last month of the period -- March -- showed some signs of life.

Cable TV networks showed a 1% improvement in advertising revenues -- including scatter and upfront revenues placed -- in March versus the same month a year ago. Broadcast TV networks were flat in the month, according to Standard Media Index.

Standard Media Index captures 80% of actual total national U.S. media agency spending from the booking systems of five of the six global media holding groups, as well as independent media companies.

Although flat for the period, this was a major improvement for broadcast versus a 12% decline in advertising revenues for the first quarter of this year. Cable was up 2% for the quarter.

Taking out NBC’s Sochi Winter Olympic Games a year ago, TV revenues were 7% higher in broadcast and 4% in cable. Total national TV had a 46% share of all media in the first quarter of 2015.



Broadcast TV’s March results also include a 43% improvement in scatter dollar revenue growth. Cable TV networks were flat in the month when it came to scatter revenue. Through the first quarter of 2015, broadcast witnessed 13% more scatter volume, with cable adding on 9%.

Overall TV -- all national TV, syndication, local TV, and cable -- slipped 1% for March and was down 6% for the first quarter of 2015. For the quarter, local TV spot revenues were down 12%, syndication was off 14%, and local cable ad revenues were up 5%.

Digital media continues to make big gains -- up 24% in March and 23% higher overall for the first quarter. Digital ended the period with a 27% share -- second to national TV.

The biggest part of digital media -- advertising on content/search (a 11% share) -- grew 13% in the first quarter; with ad network/ad exchange deals (a 9% share) soaring 39% over the same period the year before.

Magazines, newspapers and radio -- each with a 4% share of the market for the first three months of the year -- all witnessed lower results for the period -- declining 7%, 2%, and 1%, respectively.

Overall, U.S. media witnessed a 4% gain during March and was up 1% in the first quarter of 2015, according to SMI.

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