National TV networks witnessed a sharp 23% decline in TV advertising to $716.4 million in the month of May -- with sports programming ad revenues down a massive 66% -- according to Standard Media Index.
Taking sports out of the picture presents a slightly better result, with national TV ad revenues down 15%.
Sports TV advertising lost ground due to the pausing of NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, as well as NASCAR races and two big horse-racing events -- the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.
Sports TV generated just $52.8 million dollars -- comprising 8% of all national TV ad dollars, compared to 17% in May 2019.
For the month, all cable TV networks were 24% lower to $446.6 million in national TV ad revenues, while broadcast TV networks were down 23.9% to $234.9 million.
Not all national TV media dropped: national TV news ad revenue grew nearly 10% to $103.9 million -- which accounted for 15% of all national TV revenue, up from 11% in May 2019.
Also, for the second month in a row, national TV syndication grew -- up 2.6% for May to $34.9 million.
Declining ad categories included: Travel (down 95%); automotive (43% lower); restaurants (32%); retail (29%); entertainment/media (28%); apparel/accessories (18%); consumer products goods (9%); technology (7%); and pharmaceuticals (7%).
Ad categories that gained included wellness (13%); financial services (7%) and general business (7%).
SMI data comes from large media agency raw invoices which account for more than 70% of all U.S. media agency spend.