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National TV Ad Spending Rose 37% to $9.74 Billion in Q1: iSpot

George Stephanopoulos (right) and Robin Roberts will both guest host 'Jeopardy!' this summer.
ABC's 'Good Morning America' ranked just behind sports for delivering impressions in Q1. (Image credit: ABC/Paula Lobo)

National advertising spending jumped 37% in the first quarter to $9.74 billion, as advertisers in a variety of categories pumped up their marketing as the pandemic subsided, according to new data from iSpot.tv.

Despite cord-cutting, sports and news -- two programming categories buttressing the traditional TV bundle -- were big in the first quarter, according to iSpot, one of the measurement companies challenging Nielsen.

Live sports accounted for more than 20% of TV ad impressions, iSpot said. That’s up from about 18% of impressions in the first quarter of 2001.

The big broadcast networks remained among the leaders in delivering impressions during the quarter with CBS at No. 1, NBC second, ABC at No. 3 and Fox at No. 7.

The programs that delivered the most impressions were NFL football, college basketball’s March Madness, NBA games, ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, CBS‘s The Price Is Right, ESPN’s SportsCenter, CBS‘s The Young & The Restless and ABC World News Tonight with David Muir.

Cable news dipped 2% in the first quarter compared to a year ago. But iSpot noted a bounce-back in the second half of the quarter, with cable news posting a 5.5% increase as viewers tuned in for the latest on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The most-seen brand, based on first-quarter impressions, was GEICO. It was followed by two other insurance companies, Liberty Mutual and Progressive. Rounding out the top 10 were T-Mobile, Indeed, TurboTax, Balance of Nature, Allstate, Subway and Toyota. 

Disney Plus was the 17th-ranked brand, with impressions up 38% compared to a year ago.

Among advertisers, movie studios made a significant comeback with film lovers again venturing into theaters. TV ad impressions for studios were up more than 100% compared to a year ago, with studios promoting releases including Uncharted and The Batman.

Recruiting services also increased spending as companies struggled to retain employees. Impressions for job sites were up 57%, with ads concentrated in high-profile events such as the NFL Playoffs and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Other emerging categories include cryptocurrency, betting, travel, tax preparation and fitness. Each of these categories was represented in Super Bowl LVI, iSpot noted. ■

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.