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National TV Ad Market Uptick in March Lifts Q1 Results

April 18th 2015

New York, 17th Apr 2015 – The television market bounced back slightly in March as advertisers increased spending to close out the first quarter, according to a new report from global advertising data group Standard Media Index (SMI) today. The overall ad market rose by +1% for the quarter year-over-year.

SMI’s figures show March ad investment in both cable (+1% YoY) and broadcast TV (flat YoY)) bucked recent trends and didn’t soften, which could be seen as a positive sign for upfront negotiations due to take place in the coming months.

Taking out major sporting events like the Sochi Winter Olympic Games a year ago, Q1 TV revenues showed solid growth in both broadcast (+7%) and cable (+4%) when compared to the same period last year.

“A nice uptick in scatter dollars fueled national TV growth in March, which is certainly a good sign for the health of the ad marketplace. The solid growth figures when you remove the impact of the winter games from last year provides reason for networks to be more optimistic heading into upfront season,” said Scott Grunther, SMI’s executive vice president of media.

Reporting on 80% of the total national ad spend from global agencies, SMI’s latest data shows that in addition to TV, digital drove the growth of the overall ad market in Q1(+23%). Digital’s market share of total ad dollars also jumped 5 points in Q1 against last year.

Automotive, the largest advertising category, remains soft, down -3% for the quarter, while consumer electronics and business services and recruitment both jumped +17% to emerge as the fastest growing categories.

After a very soft holiday season, both for consumer spending and ad spending, retail ad spend also jumped up by +17% in March to coincide with reports that retail sales rose by +0.9% in the past month.

SMI Q1 AD MARKET HIGHLIGHTS

  • Despite a recovery in March, overall television ad bookings dipped by -6% to round out the quarter (coming off an Olympics year) and ad spend was down -4% for the broadcast-year-to-date (BYTD)
  • Including sports spending, Cable TV ad dollars saw a modest rise (+2%) in Q1 but ad spend on broadcast TV was down -12% for the period.
  • Showing no sign of slowing, advertisers boosted their spending in the scatter market across both broadcast (+13%) and cable (+9%) in the first quarter. The overall scatter market saw an +11% spike.
  • Last year’s soft upfront continued to manifest itself in decreased upfront ad dollars in the current marketplace. Cable was up slightly (+1%), but broadcast upfront revenues continue to show declines YoY (-16%).
  • Removing the impact of the Olympic Games last year, NBC experienced the most significant increase in its non-sports ad spend, up almost +30% for the quarter.
  • A look at the top cable networks showed that AMC, ESPN, MTV and the Food Network saw advertisers ramp up investment in Q1.
  • Digital’s robust growth was steered mostly by ad networks and ad exchanges which rose 39% in Q1, alongside large increases in social networking sites (+41%) and pure play video sites, such as YouTube.com and Hulu.com (+38%).
  • Within the print market, ad spend on magazines sunk by 7% and newspapers dropped by +2% in the first quarter compared to last year. Radio was also on the losing end with advertisers dropping off by -1%, but there was better news for out of home as ad revenues rose by +1% in Q1.SMI captures 80% of total U.S. agency spend exclusively from the booking systems of five of the six global media holding groups, as well as leading independents. It reports monthly on actual spend data and is the clearest picture of the flow of dollars across the sector.

SMI captures 80% of total U.S. agency spend exclusively from the booking systems of five of the six global media holding groups, as well as leading independents. It reports monthly on actual spend data and is the clearest picture of the flow of dollars across the sector.

SMI Team

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