March Sadness: TV Ad Rates Plummet, Send Weak Signal For Upfront Demand

In a good year, the month of March provides a spark of momentum as the major broadcast and cable networks head into their upfront selling seasons for the upcoming season, but despite the boon of the NCAA basketball tournament, the past couple of years could only be described as “March Sadness” as the average price of national TV advertising plummets, most likely mirroring marketplace demand.

The RealCost Index, a collaboration of SQAD that benchmarks their syndicated NetCosts data at 100 in January 2009, fell to its lowest point this year -- a 127 -- in March for the overall national TV ad marketplace. That’s down from an index of 138 in February, but even more concerning is the fact that March pricing had been some of the strongest in recent years.

March 2013’s 214 index is the highest since the inception of the index, and March 2014’s 206 index was its second-highest, but the March marketplace crashed in March 2015 with an index of 125, and has edged up only two points this year.



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