National TV Ad Spend Up 3.2%; Cable Gains 5.6%

Total national TV advertising dollars grew by 3.2% in July to $2.46 billion -- in line with overall U.S. advertising growth for the month -- with cable networks posting the strongest results.

Cable networks grew 5.6% to $1.59 billion, with broadcast networks up 1% to $722 million, according to Standard Media Index. The entire market survey was based on data from 70% of national media agency billings.

Cable news networks benefited from higher ratings as a result of strong interest in the presidential election race --- as well as generally high ratings from HGTV, TNT, Food Network and Bravo, according to SMI.

For broadcast networks, NBC had a ratings gain from pre-Olympic programming and “America’s Got Talent” while CBS grew ratings from a major golf tournament.

Broadcast networks witnessed an 11% decline in ad revenue for prime time to $411.8 million, with late-fringe programming down 7% to $31.2 million. Only daytime network programming posted a gain -- 13% -- to $65.7 million. Average 30-second unit costs dipped 10% to $62,400 in prime time and 5% in late night to $18,720.

By contrast, cable witnessed a 7% growth in prime time to average $6,600 and 9% in early-fringe to $3,240.

While scatter advertising revenues grew 19% in July, upfront deals for the month -- set a year before in a weak marketplace -- was down 3%.

Both broadcast and cable networks delivered lower percentages of audience deficiency units -- makegood inventory -- across all dayparts, with broadcast down to 15% from 19% versus July 2015 and cable networks down 19% from 30% a year ago.

SMI says total U.S. ad spending improved 3% in July.

Digital media revenues grew 12% for the month-- with social gaining 40%; ad exchanges up 25%; and video, down 23%. Search media witnessed a 2% decline -- the first ever since SMI begin reporting.

Among other media, out-of-home was up 4%; magazines were down 10%; radio also lost 10%; and newspapers slipped 1%.

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