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TV Ad Spending Drops 1% in April, SMI Says

Television ad spending fell 1% in April, according to the latest data from research company Standard Media Index.

Broadcast networks saw an 8% increase in spending, but cable was down 7%.

Sports gave a boost to broadcast because CBS had the final games of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Those games were on Turner a year ago. Without the Final Four and the championship game, broadcast was down 5%.

Spending on the NCAA games and the programming surrounding them was up 5% from a year ago. Spots in the championship game cost $1.04 million on average, up 3%.

The declines were driven by lower spending by automakers and car dealers, who cut back by 17% from a year ago during the month. Spending by telecommunications companies was also down 12%.

Spending was up in the pharma and quick-serve restaurant categories.

News programming was benefiting from the Trump Administration. Broadcast news was up 17% in spending and cable news rose 11%.

MSNBC enjoyed the biggest increase in spending on a percentage basis, jumping 63%. CNN was up 16%, and Fox News grew 12%. It appeared to be little affected by the departure of Bill O’Reilly, though that came late in the month.

Spending on broadcast entertainment was down 15%. Half of that was due to the NCAA tournament replacing entertainment programming on CBS.

Fox was down without American Idol and prices for spots on Empire were down 3% to $536,074, SMI said.

Advertising spending on all media was down 1% in April.

Spending on digital continued to slow, with just a 3% increase.

“The digital market hasn’t rebounded from the viewability and safety concerns that came to the forefront late last year, and advertisers are yet to jump back in and show they are confident that these issues have been meaningfully addressed,” said SMI's James Fennessy.