Advertising expenditures rose 2.6% to $32.9 billion in the first quarter, according to Kantar Media.
Spending on sports programming powered gains on cable TV, which was up 7.4%, and network, up 7%, according to Kantar. The big ticket items were the NFL postseason games and the NCAA Men's basketball tournament. (There was more of March Madness in this year's first quarter than a year ago, when it spilled into April.)
Syndication TV budgets were up 15.7% and spot TV rose 2.5%, benefitting from gains in political advertising.
Spanish-language TV was up 20.7%.
"After a sluggish start in January, the pace of measured ad spending quickly accelerated and grew at an average rate of more than four percent during February and March, the best performance in more than a year," Jon Swallen, chief research officer at Kantar Media North America, said in a statement. "Early figures from the second quarter indicate continued modest growth with improvement trickling down to media that have been lagging the overall advertising market."