Automotive TV Spending Drops 19% In May, Impressions Increase 3.9%

Automakers spent an estimated 19.2% less on national television spending in May compared to a year ago according to 

May 2023 spending registered at $156.2 million, compared to $193.3 million in May 2022. But household TV ad impressions were up 3.9% year-over-year — 27.4 billion compared to 26.3 billion, according to iSpot.

The top five brands by estimated national TV ad spending in May 2023 were Kia ($17.2 million), Lexus ($13.2 million), Toyota ($12.2 million), Ram Trucks ($11.4 million) and Chevrolet ($11.1 million).

The most-seen automaker ads by share of household TV ad impressions, May 2023 were Chevrolet: Big Life (2.40%), Ram Trucks: For Every Season (2.11%), Subaru: Dog Tested: Off-Roading (2.06%), Infiniti: Guy Thing (1.86%) and Chevrolet: A Whole New Level (1.73%).



Kia upped its May investment by 10.6% year-over-year, with nearly half (49.3%) of its May 2023 outlay going toward NBA games. Meanwhile, Lexus slightly decreased its estimated national TV ad spend year-over-year, but spent more with specific programs like SportsCenter (up 31.8%) and "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" (up 122%). Toyota’s ad spend during NASCAR Cup Series races rose 5.1% year-over-year in May.

“Many automakers spent May getting a jump on summer, emphasizing SUV and truck inventory during sporting events to tie into consumer travel and getaways while also tying into the start of the summer sales cycle,” says  Stuart Schwartzapfel, executive vice president, media partnerships at “As the pool of live sports and new scripted shows shrinks these next couple months, reality programming is likely to be in the driver’s seat for automotive brand impression deliveries around seasonal sales and 2024 vehicle introductions.”

The top five brands by share of automaker household TV ad impressions in May were Chevrolet (10.08%), Toyota (9.09%), Lexus (8.64%), Hyundai (7.45%) and Ram Trucks (7.12%).

The biggest estimated spending increases among top 15 brands by spend in May were BMW (+1,736%), Polestar (+288%), Audi (+66.0%), Ram Trucks (+28.6%) and Kia (+10.6%), per

BMW’s big year-over-year spend increase for May was due largely to NBA playoff games, which accounted for nearly 80% of the automaker’s outlay during the month. BMW did not spend during NBA games in May 2022.

Audi also had a basketball bump: It didn’t advertise during NBA action in May 2022, but this year, the NBA was its top programming by spend for the month (33.6% of Audi’s estimated total).

Although Ram Trucks had a 40.3% year-over-year spend increase during sports-related programming in May, it was the news and information programs that made the biggest difference. The automaker upped its estimated spend on that show genre by 169.2% compared to May 2022, with "Today," "Today 3rd Hour" and" CBS Mornings" as the top news programs by spend for the month. 

The top programs for automakers by share of household TV ad impressions in May were NBA (6.24%), SportsCenter (1.33%), NHL (1.32%), "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (0.67%) and MLB (0.52%), per iSpot.

With the NBA and NHL playoffs plus the MLB season in full swing, it’s no surprise that sports programming delivered a significant number of TV ad impressions for automakers in May. 

The NBA accounted for 8.5% more automotive brand TV ad impressions year-over-year during the month, while impressions during MLB games grew by 39.3%. Programs like The Big Bang Theory (up 25%), Good Morning America (up 102%) and House Hunters (up 84%) also saw impressions climb year-over-year in May.

Top networks for automakers by share of household TV ad impressions for May were ESPN (5.22%), TNT (4.36%), NBC (3.05%), ABC (2.82%) and CBS (2.27%), per

ESPN delivered the most household TV ad impressions share of voice, driven primarily by NBA games, which had a 45.66% SOV for automakers on the network. TNT also had a year-over-year bump in SOV for automotive brand impressions, up from 6.42% in May 2022 to 7.98% in May 2023 — again, largely due to increased NBA action. 

Automaker TV ad impressions declined slightly on some broadcast networks year-over-year in May, but brands also shifted approaches around on those networks. 

For instance, "The Voice" accounted for 10.1% of automotive ad impressions on NBC this year, but the show didn’t air last May. On ABC, "Good Morning America" was the No. 2 program for automaker impressions – up from No. 5 last May.

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