TV Ad Spend Up 2% In May, Supports Strong Upfront

A surprisingly strong May, particularly in terms of national TV ad dollars, is evidence of positive results for the upfront TV ad market, according to Standard Media Index.

Average weekly ad spending on national TV networks grew 2% — from $895 million to $912 million.

“We continue to see strengthening conditions in the second quarter for the national TV market after a soft first quarter — even factoring in the Olympics inflated annual comparison (in the second quarter 2018),” said James Fennessy, CEO, Standard Media Index. “In fact, May 2019 has delivered its strongest seasonally adjusted result since we began measurement.”

Fennessy says these findings support strong current results for upfront TV ad negotiations for national TV, where single-digit percentage higher dollar volume and double-digit percentage pricing gains -- the cost per thousand viewers (CPMs) — have been seen for at least three networks: CBS, the CW and the Hallmark networks. 

SMI says total dollar gains for national TV entertainment programming was up 1.4% to $2.6 billion for the entire month, while sports programming was 4.7% higher to $600 million and news programming 1.2% more at $400 million.

Entertainment programming benefited from the last episodes of CBS’ longtime comedy “The Big Bang Theory,” pulling in $37.8 million for the month versus $15.6 million for May 2018. Syndicated reruns on TBS totaled $25.6 million versus $29.7 million the year before, when there were fewer airings.

Another positive sign for a strong upfront: Scatter advertising sales for May were up 7.2% per week versus May 2018.

For TV network groups overall, NBCUniversal took a 18.7% share of all national TV dollars; Disney-ABC Television, 16%; WarnerMedia, 12.1%; Discovery, 11.9%; and CBS, 9.7%.

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