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SMI: TV Ad Spending Rose 0.4% in February

Advertising spending on national TV rose 0.4% in February, slowing down from bigger gains in the preceding months, according to new figures from Standard Media Index.

Spending on news and sports was up, while entertainment was lower.

Broadcast was down 0.6%, with big spending auto and pharma marketers registering double-digit reductions in the month.

In primetime, the broadcast networks were down 2.3%. NBC was up 11.3% thanks to its hit show This Is Us. Spots in This Is Us were the most expensive among all dramas on broadcast.

Cable was up 1.4%. Spending was up on Turner’s TNT and TBS and Scripps Networks’ HGTV. Among the decliners was NBCU’s USA Network and Viacom’s MTV and Comedy Central.

The Walking Dead on AMC had the highest priced spots on cable at $320,100 per 30 seconds and the highest priced spots on any scripted show on TV, SMI said.

Fueled by the activity emanating from the Trump administration, television news was up 11.7% across all dayparts in broadcast and cable. Cable news was up 7% in total day and 30.9% in primetime.

In total day, MSNBC was up 22.5%, Fox News was up 18.7% and CNN gained 12%.

At $14,000 and $12,500, Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor and Hannity had the highest priced ad units in cable news. Shows on MSNBC, including Rachel Maddow and TheLast Word had the biggest gains, 53.9% and 71.8%, respectively.

Also getting a Trump bump is NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Spots in the late night show are up 43.5% to $110,000.

Other big TV events in February included the Oscars on ABC, for which advertisers paid $1.844 million per spot, up 2% from a year ago, and the Grammys, which cost $890,000, up 13% for CBS.

Sports programming, including the Super Bowl, was up 4.8%. Sports on cable was up 19%, while broadcast was down 1.9%.

Overall, the ad market was flat, with digital ad spending growing at the slowest rate SMI has seen.

“After explosive digital growth over the past three years, the past six months have shown that a sizeable number of brands went too far and have started reassessing based on quality issues and falling sales. We expect this trend to accelerate in the coming months as the issues with YouTube are certain to have an impact on spend on non-premium platforms,” said James Fennessy, CEO of Standard Media Index. “Our February data reinforces the need for advertisers to properly balance between traditional and digital and the importance we see brands putting on safety, environment and context.”

Digital growth in February was 3.7%. Pure-play video sites were up 26.6% and social sites were up 9.9%.

Google was flat, Facebook up 23.1% and Snapchat jumped 194% from a year ago.

Standard Media Index gets it data directly from the traffic computers at media agencies representing about 60% of U.S. spending.