Online ad spend still trails broadcast

Canuck report: Battle for the North American Couch Potato

TORONTO -- Despite the Internet and web TV forays, traditional broadcast TV remains king with North American viewers, judging by where ad dollars are flowing these days.

The latest Battle for the North American Couch Potato report from Toronto-based Convergence Consulting Group estimates U.S. online TV advertising amounted to only 2.5% of total ad revenue in 2009, and forecasted 2.8% for 2010.

The numbers are much the same north of the border: Canadian broadcasters secured 2.3% of their ad revenue in 2009 from the Internet, and only 3.1% will come from online sources in 2010, according to the Canadian report.

While online TV advertising may now be a permanent, and growing, part of an overall media buy, Nielsen TV rating points will continue to dominate the attention of marketers for some time yet, the report concluded.

Trivial online revenue for Canadian broadcasters comes as they look to grow their web ad businesses while protecting traditional TV ad revenue and subscriber fees for expensive U.S. network and cable series picked up at the Los Angeles Screenings and other international TV markets.

North American web ad revenue also took a hit during the economic downturn. The report estimated U.S. online spending in 2009 at $23.7 billion, down 3% over 2008, and projected $25.5 billion for 2010 as signs of a recovery spur a rebound.

And the slim online ad revenue is partly self-inflicted, the Convergence Consulting report argues, as broadcasters and cable channels delay streaming TV show episodes and run only selected shows or episodes online.

Online viewership is growing on both sides of the border, however, as Hulu and its online distributors and the CBS Audience Network accounted for as many eyeballs viewing full episodes of TV shows on the web as on the broadcasters' own websites.

The Convergence Consulting report added cable channels belonging to Disney, NBCU, Scripps and Viacom did most of the heavy lifting to grow recent viewership online for full episodes of cable fare.
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