National TV Ad Spend Up Per Week, Broadcast's Premiere Week Down 10%

While national TV advertising ended somewhat stronger in the final weeks of the third quarter -- up overall by low to mid-single-digit percentage increases -- TV’s big broadcast premiere week was down versus a year ago, with a 10% decline.

For the third week in September -- premiere week -- national prime-time broadcast TV advertising revenue was down 10% to $138.5 million from $154.2 million, according to Standard Media Index.

James Fennessy, chief executive officer of SMI, tells Television News Daily this was the result of fewer new scripted TV show premieres, including overall multi-hour programming “events.”

For the month of September overall, however, there was good news for national TV advertising.

National TV cable spending grew 2.2% to $2.3 billion with national TV broadcast spending 6.6% higher to $1.6 billion. Looking specifically at programming categories, entertainment (both cable and broadcast) grew 4.2% to $2.4 billion in the period and sports was up 1.7% to $1.1 billion.



National TV news ad spending outperformed other categories -- 10% higher compared to the third quarter of 2018, to $340.8 million.

SMI says that on a weekly basis for the third quarter, revenue was up 1.8% on average -- this for a 13-week period versus a 14-week period a year ago. National ad spend for consumer packaged goods marketers (CPG) was down 8.4%, while pharmaceuticals sank 7% and automotive was off 10%. For the entire third quarter period, national cable advertising spending was down 1% to $6.17 billion; broadcast, 1.5% lower to $3.29 billion. Total national TV ad spending for the period, slipped 1.2% to $9.46 billion.

SMI also says that looking a recent 10-month span -- October 2018 through August 2019 -- versus the same period two years ago (leaving out the big Olympics/political advertising year) -- national TV ad spend was only down 1.5% to $40 billion on a compound average growth rate (CAGR).

“That’s a great result,” says Fennessy, “especially looking at where ratings are... National TV has been a cheap and effective buy.”

TV ratings for many networks continue to see significant double-digit percentage declines when looking at legacy TV measurements, such as Nielsen live program-plus three or seven days of time-shifted viewing metrics.

SMI’s national TV spending estimates are derived from 70% of the overall national TV ad market, with pricing from billing systems at major media agencies

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