Cable TV bucks downward ad trend

As U.S. advertising spending falls 11.5%

NEW YORK -- U.S. advertising spending fell 11.5% to $83.4 billion in the first three quarters of 2009, The Nielsen Co. said Thursday in a report that once again highlighted that the cable TV ad market has held up better than other parts of the media business.

The year-to-date ad spending figure is down $10.9 billion from the same period in 2008.

The only ad categories posting gains over the first nine months of the year were Spanish-language cable TV (+36.7%), free-standing insert coupons (+11.2%) and cable TV (+9.1%) as nine of the top 10 cable advertisers increased their spending so far this year, according to Nielsen. Internet ad spending is down 0.5% year-to-date.

Network TV spending was off 13.9% year-on-year for the January-September time frame, spot TV for the top 100 markets was down 16%, and Spanish-language network TV was down 4.6%.

"The struggling economy continues to take its toll on the advertising industry, with most sectors lower than last year," said Terrie Brennan, senior vp for new business development at Nielsen. "In general, television -- particularly cable television -- seems to be holding up better than print-based media."

Auto advertising is down 30.9% for the first nine months of 2009, with local auto dealership spending down 26.9%. Ad expenditures for motion pictures, the sixth-largest ad category with nearly $2.5 billion for the nine months, are only down 1.7%, outperforming the overall 12.7% drop for the top 10 product categories. Quick service restaurants and direct response products are the only top 10 categories with slight gains.