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TV Ad Spending Drops 6% in April

As the networks begin to negotiation upfront advertising buys for the 2015-16 season, the latest figures show that spending for the current season so far is down 5%.

Broadcast and cable were down, according to Standard Media Index, while spot TV and local TV were up by single digits.

The April results show TV spending down 6%, in line with previous months. The decline is the result of a weak 2014 upfront and a move by marketers to shift some of the dollars previously earmarked for TV to digital media, especially online video.

Spending on Digital is up 21% so far this year. Spending on digital video jumped 44%.

“SMI’s data reinforces what most commentators are saying, which is that traditional media continues to remain soft as brands expand their investment in digital. We see large traditional TV advertisers, like retail and financial services, move significant dollars into digital at the expense of their television spend,” said James Fennessy, chief commercial officer at SMI. “The encouraging news for content owners and creators is that a lot of this money is finding its way into digital video as advertisers look to align their brands with premium content.”

The data from SMI shows that food advertisers are spending 14% less on TV, retailers are spending 12% less and financial service marketers are down 4%. All of those categories are posting double-digit growth in digital spending.

In April spending on broadcast fell 8%. CBS and ABC were flat, making them to top performers.

Spending on cable was down 7%. Discovery Channel posted a double-digit gain. Food Network and HGTV also did well for the month.

Money booked in the upfront was down 12% in April. For cable, upfront revenues were down 9%.  Some of the shortfall is being made up in the scatter market. Broadcast scatter sales were up 18% in April while cable scatter revenue was up 5%, according to SMI.

So far this TV season, scatter is up 19% for broadcast and 16% for cable.

Overall ad spending was up 1% in April. Spending is also up 1% for 2015.

SMI gathers its data directly from the ad booking systems of five of the six largest global media agency holding group, plus several of the major independents.

(Photo via Ervins Strauhmanis's FlickrImage taken on Sept. 19, 2014 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 3x4 aspect ratio.)

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.