Local TV Ad Market Cuts Losses: Down 23% In July-September Vs. March-June Lows Of 60%

Although local TV advertising revenue has rebounded somewhat from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic between March and June, when it was down 60%, July-September advertising revenue is still off 23% from last year, according to SQAD, the TV cost research company.

SQAD says how rising political spending will factor into the overall health of the local TV advertising market has yet to be determined.

“While political spending continues to be strong in many local markets, particularly battle-ground states, these expenditures do not seem sufficient to draw the market back to pre-pandemic levels,” according to the company.

It is estimated that political advertising could bring in a record $3.5 billion this year for TV stations. In June, BIA Advisory Services lowered overall estimates for local TV's over-the-air/digital media for 2020 to $18.5 billion -- down from an earlier projection of $19.4 billion.

One strong positive area is the cost-per-rating point (CPP) for the 25-54 demographic that local TV advertisers have been paying.



In March, April, and May, the CPP was up at much as 11% -- while total market advertising spend was crashing, down 60% or more. SQAD says this occurred because of advertisers' pre-pandemic negotiations, with those marketers keeping their ads in the rotation.

“While the ad spend data trends indicate that 2020 will continue to perform under expectations for an election year, the market-level CPP would be in a worse condition if the pandemic had happened in a non-election year.”

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