Linear National TV Ad Spending Edges Up 1% in May: SMI

A closeup of U.S. money
(Image credit: Yuriy_Kulik/Getty Images)

National advertising spending on linear TV rose almost 1% in May, according to Standard Media Index.

Broadcast TV was down 5.4% in May, while cable was up 4.3%. Syndication dropped 5.9%

Spending growth slowed from April’s 4% increase, leaving the quarter-to-date increase at 2%, which is also down from the 5% increase registered in the first quarter of 2022.

Standard Media Index May

(Image credit: Standard Media Index)

The increase reflects last year’s strong upfront. Spending on upfront ad commitments is up 4% so far this quarter after an 8% increase in Q1. Scatter is relatively weak, down 2% so far in Q2 following a 7% drop in Q1. Direct-response ad revenue is up 5% so far in the second quarter.

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So far this quarter, broadcast TV is down 11% from a year ago. It is still up 3% from 2020, the year disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cable TV is up 10% so far in Q2 after a 1% drop in the first quarter. SMI said that cable set an all-time record for upfront spending on sports so far this quarter at $1.2 billion. 

NBA ad spending doubled from a year ago, nearly the levels seen in 2018 to 2019 as the league’s schedule returns to normal, SMI said.

The National Hockey League, which moved to ESPN and Turner Sports this year from NBCUniversal, was up 83% this quarter. The Kentucky Derby was up 4%.

Overall spending on sports was up 42%. Meanwhile, news was down 2% and entertainment dropped 6%. 

The strength in sports helped Warner Bros. Discovery and The Walt Disney Co. increase their share of the ad market so far this quarter. WBD had a 25% share, up 2% and Disney had a 17% share, up 11% so far in the quarter.

Comcast’s share was 16%, down 13%; Paramount's share was 16%, dropping 4%. Fox’s share was 6%, up 4%. ■

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.