National Linear TV Ads Up 9% in 1H 2021, Impressions 6% Lower

While national TV linear advertising rose 9% in the first six months of the year versus a year ago, to an estimated $21.4 billion, impressions headed the other direction, down 6.1% to 3.8 trillion, according to

Much of the ad dollar gain in the first half of this year was due to the return of big sports TV programming, absent a year ago due the pandemic, according to the research company.

This included the return of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Major League Baseball and the NBA -- content which disappeared after the pandemic began in mid-March 2020.

This year, in part due to some of these events, there was a strong return of ad categories, including: Quick service restaurants/food delivery, up 17% year over year to $1.6 billion; automotive marketers, 41% more to $1.5 billion; and retail rising 21% to $955 million.



A resurgence of the marketplace -- slowly returning to normal after a long nine-month pandemic-disruption period of 2020 -- fueled more advertising growth. says there was a 25% gain in total creatives airing in the first six months of 2021 versus a year ago -- 57,900 pieces of advertising creative content.

Ad category laggards include wireless communications companies, inching up only 1.9% to $854.1 million; travel, down 17% to $224.8 million; and e-commerce, off 1.7% to $319.8 million.

While highly targeted addressable advertising impressions in the U.S. grew 14.6%, it comprised a tiny share of total impression delivered: 1.6%.

Addressable ad impressions here includes data from set-top-boxes across all major pay TV providers; premium streaming apps, such as Hulu and Peacock; virtual pay TV providers, including Sling TV and YouTube; and streaming set-top boxes/sticks, such as Roku and Amazon Fire Stick.

Overall advertising and impression data for comes from 23 million smart TV and set-top boxes, analyzing 35,000 brands, and 155 TV networks in 210 DMAs. Data also comes from more the 300 streaming platforms and DSPs.

1 comment about "National Linear TV Ads Up 9% in 1H 2021, Impressions 6% Lower".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 16, 2021 at 12:40 p.m.

    Wayne, where does get its ad costs data from? Certainly it's not from its panel of smart sets. And the "impressions" are another issue. I assume that these are set usage figures projected against  the total TV universe based on a sample of about 6-7% of all TV sets. ( 23 million vs 300+ million ). Perhaps someone at could provide an explanation of the methodology.

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