Spending on national TV advertising dropped 2% in the fourth quarter, according to new figures from research company Standard Media Index.
Broadcast ad spending was down 2% to $4.8 billion, while cable networks saw a 1.6% fall to $6.8 billion in the quarter, which started slowly but showed improvement in December.
The decline reflects a big drop in upfront commitments made by advertisers. SMI says the value of commercials bought in the upfront fell 7%. Broadcast was down 8% and cable was down 7%.
The networks were able to make up some of that shortfall in scatter. SMI says fourth quarter scatter was up 34% for the broadcasters and 23% for cable networks.
Among the broadcast networks, NBC had the largest share and grew its sales by 3% in the quarter. CBS' sales were up 2%. Telemudo sales were up 5%. Fox ad sale were down 12% in the quarter, Univision was off 6% and ABC dipped 2%, according to SMI.
ESPN, the ad sales leader in cable, was up 3%. AMC Networks registered a 28% gain, while Viacom's collection of channels was up 2%.