Political ads offer some relief

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Political ad revenue eased what has been a tough year for local TV stations.

Local TV ad revenue increased 1.2% in the third quarter of 2008, the Television Bureau of Advertising reported. TVB, an industry trade group, analyzes ad revenue based on TNS Media Intelligence data.

While political ad revenue in key battleground states was welcomed, it was barely enough to overcome declines in other categories, including automotive, by far the top.

TVB said that automotive fell 18% in the third quarter, car/ truck dealers, a separate category, tumbled 17%, and furniture dropped 11%. Key advertisers like No. 1 Chrysler fell 16%. Ford Motor Co. Dealers Assn. was off 12%, Toyota Motor Corp. Dealers Assn. was down 10%, and Nissan Motor Co. was off 11%. Among the auto advertisers, only Honda (up 33%) and General Motors (up 44%) showed increases.

TVB said that 13 of the top 25 categories were down in the third quarter, as were 11 of the top 25 advertisers. Political ads were strong, with Obama for President ranking 13th.

By contrast, TNS said that network TV jumped 16% in the third quarter — helped by the Olympics and political spending — and syndicated TV rose 7%.

Local broadcast TV was down 2% for the first nine months of the year, syndicated TV was up 9% and network TV was up 3%.
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