eMarketer: U.S. TV Ad Spending Has Peaked, Now In Decline

The U.S. TV ad marketplace peaked in 2018 and will never return to that level again, according to a new analysis released by eMarketer this morning.

eMarketer estimates that total U.S. TV ad spending -- including all national broadcast and cable and spot and local TV, excluding "digital" -- will decline 3% this year, and while it will expand again by another 1.0% in 2020 due to incremental spending from the presidential campaigns and the Summer Olympic Games, it "will not stave off a long-term decline for ad spending on the biggest traditional channel."

The report projects that TV ad spending will decline 2.9% this year to $70.3 billion, and that TV's share of total U.S. ad spending will drop below 30% for the first time since it became Madison Avenue's dominant medium.

"By 2022, it will drop below one-quarter of total US ad spending," the report adds.

A major factor influencing TV's declining share of ad spending is the corresponding erosion of TV households and time spent viewing the medium.

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eMarketer projects the average time spent viewing TV will decline 3.0% this year to 3 hours and 40 minutes per U.S. viewer.

"All age groups are showing declines in time spent watching TV, but the largest drops are occurring among viewers ages 17 and younger," the eMarketer report notes.

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5 comments about "eMarketer: U.S. TV Ad Spending Has Peaked, Now In Decline".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 13, 2019 at 12:27 p.m.

    Joe, doesn't eMarketer realize that "TV" advertising now extends well beyond national and local "linear TV" spot buys.  An increasing amount of "TV" ad spending is going to  OTT and digital video venues and as ad-supported platforms grow or are introduced ( maybe by Netflix? ) in these areas the total "TV" ad spend figures will continue to increase, not decrease. Meanwhile, for the forseeable future, "linear TV" will continue to receive the lion's share of "TV" ad spend and the lion's share of all branding ad dollars, including digital, radio and print media. Also, judging by these estimates, it appears that eMarketer may not be including "spot cable" spending in its figures. If so, those dollars---about $7 billion annually--- still count as "TV" spending where I'm concerned.

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, November 13, 2019 at 12:29 p.m.

    @Ed Papazian: I think eMarketer realizes that.

  3. M Cohen from marshall cohen associates, November 13, 2019 at 1:19 p.m.

    Funny. If you go to emarter's web site right now as I did, the first study highlighted on their site is "US Advertisers Will Allocate Nearly $7 Billion to Connected TV This Year." I think they know all about OTT. It's strong and growing. But I really wish that people would say what they say when they say "TV advertising."

  4. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics replied, November 13, 2019 at 2:11 p.m.

    Thanks Ed. It matters little to those offering TV impressions whether those impressions are linear, time shifted, OTT or anything else. It doesn't matter how or where so long as they are paid for. 

  5. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, November 13, 2019 at 2:31 p.m.

    @Marshall Cohen: I wouldn't conflate CTV and OTT. I know eMarketer is aware of and tracks ad revenues coming from those sources. eMarketer clearly disclosed that the TV spending report excludes digital.

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