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National TV Ad Market Down $1.6B Year-over-Year

(Image credit: iStock)

NEW YORK—Media Village’s Standard Media Index took an in-depth look at the impact COVID-19 had on the national TV advertising market in March and April of this year, which found that across all national TV the market was down $1.6 billion from the same period in 2019 and down $1.5 billion from SMI’s initial March/April 2020 forecast.

Nationally, the rate of decline for upfront spending picked up in April compared to March—25% in April, 13% in March. For scatter spending, the decline is 36% for April and 17% in March.

A lack of sports broadcasting caused broadcast to see greater declines from initial projections for both upfront and scatter spending than cable. Broadcast is down $700 million from 2019 and $800 million from 2020 initial projections, while cable is down $900 million from 2019, but $700 million from projections. SMI says syndication is actually outperforming both March/April 2019 and initial forecasts.

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Overall, total upfront spending was down 25% in April—32% for broadcast and 22% for cable—while scatter spending was down 36%—39% for broadcast and 37% for cable. SMI believes that April 2020 upfront and scatter spending could provide some insight into spending patterns over the next few months.

In terms of type of content, the loss of sports resulted in an estimated $1.1 billion shortfall in sports ads revenues across March and April. News has been performing well, however, as viewers have put more time into new consumption and companies like WarnerMedia reallocated sports dollars to news. Entertainment, meanwhile, despite increased ratings, has seen ad revenues down because of overall market decline, per SMI.

Who is advertising has also been impacted by COVID-19. Automotive, entertainment and media, restaurants, technology and travel services have all seen double digit declines. In fact, general business was the only category that saw growth in March and April.

For the full report from SMI, Media Village’s website