2020 TV Ad Spending Falls 9%, Local Rises

In the wake of a pandemic-disrupted year -- and declining advertising business -- just one of the six major TV platforms witnessed an uptick in ad dollars in 2020: local TV stations' advertising.

Local TV advertising was 8.3% higher to $16.25 billion, driven by record-high political advertising spend.

Total TV advertising saw a decline of 8.9% to $66.8 billion in 2020, according to market and media research firm Kantar.

Kantar had estimated 2020 political advertising on broadcast TV was at $3.5 billion -- a record amount.

Still, TV stations suffered somewhat from a postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics until 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previous major political/Olympic advertising seasons have seen local TV rising 12% to 15% or more in the big political and Olympic seasons versus the previous year.



National TV media paced worse than the market overall -- down 13.3% to $50.5 billion for the year. In the second quarter of 2020 -- amid rising cases of the COVID-19 pandemic, national TV was estimated to have dropped as much as 20% to 30% in advertising, depending on the platform.

Cable TV networks had the biggest drop in 2020 -- 17% to $28.7 billion.

Broadcast TV networks were down 10% to $15.8 billion. Spanish-language TV networks suffered almost as much as the broader cable TV network category -- falling 15% to $1.9 billion.

U.S. syndication advertising marketing almost reached positive territory -- slipping 1% to $4.1 billion. 

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