What Does TV Advertising Look Like After COVID-19?

Do U.S. TV Viewing Gains End With COVID-19?

On January 23, China shutdown the city of Wuhan, due to coronavirus. And just like that, we witnessed immediate higher TV viewing in that country, according to Kantar. By April 7, that shutdown ended.

Now through mid-April, Kantar media says TV viewing in China is pretty much back to normal seasonal levels. That’s a two-and-half-month period, from bottom to top to bottom.

China’s opening up of Wuhan has something to do with the softening; with some businesses starting back up. This isn’t to say everything has gotten back to normal.

China’s relatively quick turnaround comes from the country’s stringent, some would say authoritarian moves, to contain the virus to certain areas. They included an immediate banning of travel in and out of the city. 

(That said, new reports note there is some expected resurgence in COVID-19 cases in that region.)

Might this turnaround in the media and other business be replicated in the U.S.? The timeline would start in mid-June, roughly a two-and-a-half month period since U.S. states stay-at-home orders began.



Of course, like-to-like comparisons are rough; there many qualifiers here.

The U.S., as of Friday, has had many more COVID-19 cases and deaths over a widespread area -- affecting all states. Now, there are nearly 1 million confirmed cases and 50,000 deaths in the U.S., according to John Hopkins/NBC News. Many believe confirmed cases could be 10 to 50 times that number -- in a country of 330 million.

China, a country with over 1 billion people, has seen just 84,000 confirmed cases, 4,600 deaths. Also consider bumping up those numbers by 10 to 50 times if you like.

In the U.S., we are beginning to see hints of slowing TV usage -- flattening of the curve of sorts. No, things haven’t dipped back to historical trends. It's just a stoppage of the growth in total day TV use (TUT), according to Nielsen.

Think about what media usage will be like three or six months from now, especially when a vaccine is still over nine months to a year away. Does that continue more at-home high viewing levels?

While TV viewing has soared in the U.S., TV advertising continues to trail dramatically, with predictions there could be a 20% decline in 2020 when all is said and done.

Some of this would continue next year, too. What happens when that 20% TV ad decline goes up against a possible viewer decline in TV viewing?

TV and other media plans will continue to transition. Somewhere.

2 comments about "What Does TV Advertising Look Like After COVID-19?".
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  1. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, April 27, 2020 at 6:25 a.m.

    I'm curious as to how much of the network level ad decline can be attributed to the lack of live sports programming.  At the station level, they seem to be filling lost retailer ad slots with direct response.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 27, 2020 at 9:52 a.m.

    James, it's important to remember that sports is not a huge profit maker for the networks. In fact the broadcast networks are lucky to break even on many sports attractions they carry and some operate in the red. One reason they carry sports are their appeal for a type of advertiser who is not interested in much of their other content as sports "sponsorships" are heavily weighted to promotional considerations and tie-ins with the teams and players as opposed to demographic targeting as practised by traditional branding advertisers. Also, the affiliates, including the very profitable network O&Os in the larghest markets, sell local adjacencies in the network sports attractions at premium and profitable CPMs and their presence on network schedules is one of the ways to bind the stations to the national organizations.

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