TV Ad Spending Falls in May

Spending on TV advertising was down in May, another sign that the upfront market currently underway is likely to be fairly weak.

Research company Standard Media Index said cable TV advertising was down 3% in May and 4% for the first two months of the second quarter, while broadcast TV was down 8% for the month and 7% for the quarter to date.

Spending on TV bought during last year’s upfront was down in May by 4% for cable networks and 10% for the broadcasters. The scatter market was up 2% for broadcast, but down 1% for cable. TV networks did better on the digital side, with their online offerings up 10%.

“May’s results are a mirror image of the last few months,” said James Fennessy, chief commercial officer for SMI. “Digital continues to surge at the expense of other media. TV ratings were soft in May, and we see SMI’s numbers following in lock step with these results. Digital video continues to grow, and as audience measurement on mobile devices improves, we are confident that these gains will accelerate and positively impact the spend going to the major networks.”

SMI said among cable networks, ABC Family was up by double digits in May. Showing strong single-digit gains for the month were Food Network, HGTV, AMC, ESPN and Lifetime. On the broadcast side, NBC was the only network to show growth in May.

Total advertising was up 2% in May with digital providing most of the lift by growing at a 24% clip. Video sites showed a 29% gain, social media jumped 56%, and Internet radio was up 44%. Digital now controls a 30% share of media spending, up five percentage points from a year ago.


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.