TV Ad Spending Rises 1% in January

The TV industry got off to a positive start in 2016 with ad spending up 1% in January, according to new figures from research company Standard Media Index.

SMI says that the broadcast TV networks showed a big gain of 9% in the month. That offset declines of 3% in cable, 3% in syndication, 7% in spot TV and 8% in local TV.

Broadcast networks were able to take advantage of a strong scatter market. Scatter revenues were up 74% for the broadcasters. For cable networks, scatter revenues were down 12%. Revenues from commercial time bought during the upfront were up 1% for broadcast and down 1% for cable.

SMI said the broadcast gains were driven by healthy ratings for NFL football, which helped power CBS and NBC to double-digit increases. The reboot of The X-Files gave Fox a boost.

Among the cable networks, TBS, HGTV and Freeform rang up double digit increases. ESPN’s ad revenue was hurt by the move of the college football semi-final games from New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve.

“January’s results are encouraging given current market uncertainty. Improved ratings, driven by the outstanding performance of the NFL, have delivered healthy growth for major broadcasters, even with a slight dip in ratings for the month. Cable hasn’t been as fortunate as revenue declines are tracking closely with softer ratings,” said James Fennessy, SMI’s chief executive officer.

Television’s share of total ad spending was 59% in January, down from 61% a year ago.

Overall, ad spending was up 4% in January compared to a year ago, according to SMI.

Digital media showed another strong increase of 16%. Pure play social media platforms were up 56%, video was up 39% and Internet radio was up 29%.

It was a tough month for print, with ad spending on newspapers down 17% and magazines off 2%.

“Digital continues to deliver healthy double-digit gains and, while this growth looks to be mostly organic, there is little doubt that the print and radio sectors are being negatively impacted,” said Fennessy. “The one other bright spot is out of home advertising which continues to build on the great momentum generated in late 2015.”

SMI gathers its spending data directly from the traffic computers at large media agencies representing about 80% of all spending, including all of the major groups except GroupM.

(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 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.