Political ads boost local TV station revenue

Automotive ads fall 18%; car dealer ads drop 17%

NEW YORK -- 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 Friday. TVB, an industry trade group, analyzes ad revenue based on TNS Media Intelligence data.

While political ad revenue in some key battleground states was welcomed, it was barely enough to overcome declines in other categories including the top by far, automotive. TVB said that automotive fell 18% in the third quarter while car/truck dealers, a separate category, fell 17%. Furniture dropped 11%. Key advertisers like the top one, Chrysler, fell 16%. So did Ford Motor Co. Dealers Assn. (down 12%); Toyota Motor Corp. Dealers Assn. (down 10%); and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (down 11%). Among the auto advertisers, only Honda Motor Co. (up 33%) and General Motors Corp. (up 44%) showed increases.

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

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%. But year-to-date, as others have said, it's a bleaker picture. Local broadcast TV is down 2% for the first nine months of the year while syndicated TV is up 9% and network TV is up only 3%.
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