National TV Ad Spending Dropped 2% in Q4; SMI

Decline Reflects Drop In Upfront Commitments

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%.