National TV Ad Spending Up 6% in First Quarter, SMI Reports

A closeup of U.S. money
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After a 3% increase in March, advertiser spending on national television finished the first quarter up 6%, according to new figures from Standard Media Index.

The increase left the industry 0.3% ahead of where it was in the first quarter of 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was starting to affect the U.S.

Broadcast TV was up 15% in the quarter compared to 2021, helped by the Winter Olympics on NBC. Cable was up 2%. Syndication was down 14%. Cable had a 54% share of linear ad dollars, compared to broadcast’s 43% share.

Sports programming was the big gainer, registering a 31% increase. With the midterm election campaigns just getting started, news was down 11%. Spending on entertainment programming was down 2%.

Spending on inventory bought during the upfront was up 9%, while scatter spending was down 2%. Direct response was down 0.1%.

SMI said that of the top programmers, the newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery had the largest share of national TV ad spending with 25%, down 1% from the year before. Paramount had a 24% share and its total was down 2%. NBCU was up 3% in spending and had a 15% share. Spending on Disney was up 6%, getting a boost from the Oscars (in second quarter last year) and NBA basketball, giving Disney a 14% share. Fox was down 6% and had a 5% share of the national television market.■

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.