National TV Ad Forecast Gains Momentum

National TV advertising may be taking a surprising turn -- slightly upwards.

First-quarter estimates are tracking 3% higher, hitting $10.9 billion, excluding comparisons which included Olympics advertising spending of a year ago (up 1.4% including those results). These estimates come from Pivotal Research Group, in part, from an analysis of data from 29 major marketing companies.

“This was a pretty strong number considering the fourth quarter was around down 2.0%,” writes Brian Wieser, senior research analyst at Pivotal Research Group. Second-quarter estimates -- a key barometer for how the upfront market might do -- are that national TV advertising will be 1.4% higher to $11.0 billion.

Wieser adds: “While we can’t specifically translate these figures into specific outcomes for the coming upfront, they do seem to highlight that positive momentum reduces the chances of another negative year.”



Many earlier estimates about national TV upfront advertising business, to be conducted in the coming weeks, could be down 6% to 7% to around $18 billion to $19 billion. Last year’s upfront market was down around 4% to 5%, according to estimates.

Wieser: “One could argue that advertisers who cut last year are less likely to do the same this year, as last year’s budget right-sizing produced new baselines for growth.”

“While that’s a possibility, we can also point to marketers’ preferences to avoid committing money earlier than necessary. There are relatively few “must-have” TV programs to buy, and this diminishes the urgency required to drive a strong market.”

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