National TV Scatter Spending Down 32% Vs. 4 Years Ago

National TV scatter market advertising revenue is down a massive 32% so far this season -- October 2021 through March 2022 -- versus the same period four years ago, according to an analysis conducted by media competitive ad tracking researcher Standard Media Index.

This year -- similar to 2018 -- includes Winter Olympics programming on NBC TV networks. And the period, like this year, starts off a big political advertising season with spending ramping up for the November elections.

SMI also notes that all direct-response advertising across all programming for that same period is also down a sizable 21% to $2.4 billion.

Supply-chain, inflation, and a possible weaker economy are reasons that TV buying and selling executives point to for the major slowdown in national TV advertising.

The first- and second-quarter scatter market TV ad-selling periods are typically indicators of how the upfront TV advertising marketplace -- which starts in a few weeks -- will fare.



At the same time, the advertising research company says, upfront TV ad spending-- which is placed before the start of the TV season in the fall -- is mostly flat versus four years ago -- at $16.8 billion, down 2% from the 2017-2018 TV season, which came in at $17.2 billion.

National TV scatter spending for just the most recent January-March 2022 period versus the same period in 2021 does not look much better.

TV scatter advertising spending for the first three months of 2022 totaled $1.556 billion -- virtually flat versus the same period a year before ($1.559 billion). But the January-March 2021 period came amid a still disruptive pandemic -- a weak ad spending period, one where vaccines were just getting administered in the U.S.

The previous year period -- January-March 2020 period was almost entirely before the pandemic took hold (starting March 15). Scatter ad spending then was at $1.995 billion.

SMI captures between 70% and 95% of all media agency spend, with data coming from raw billing records of all media transactions. This includes television, digital, out-of-home, print, and radio.

2 comments about "National TV Scatter Spending Down 32% Vs. 4 Years Ago".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 19, 2022 at 7:06 a.m.

    Wayne, one additional point is the fact that as scatter CPMs for linear TV have risen to the point where they are the same or higher than CTV/AVOD CPMs---which, themselves are 30-40% higher than linear to begin with---- that some of the slippage in scatter spend is caused by scatter dollars being diverted to CTV/AVOD. If this is true, bad scatter results will not necessarily have a negative impact on the big upfront "futures" sales.

  2. Eric Fischer from HJA Strategic Consulting, May 19, 2022 at 1:09 p.m.

    Can't sell ratings points if you don't have them.

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