US TV ad market uptick in March lifts Q1 2015 results

DetailsJoseph O'Halloran | 19 April 2015

The US TV market bounced back slightly in March as advertisers increased spending to close out the first quarter, according to the latest report from Standard Media Index (SMI).

The global advertising data group found that the overall ad market rose by just a single percentage for the quarter year-over-year with March 2015 ad investment in both cable, up 1% year on year, and broadcast TV (flat) staying firm. SMI suggests that this could be seen as a positive sign for upfront negotiations due to take place in the coming months.
Moreover, even after taking out major sporting events like the Sochi Winter Olympic Games a year ago, Q1 TV revenues showed solid 7% growth in both broadcast and cable (4%) when compared with the same period last year.

Despite a recovery in March, SMI found that overall TV ad bookings dipped by 6% to round out the quarter, coming off an Olympics year, and ad spend was down 4% for the broadcast-year-to-date. Including sports spending, cable TV ad dollars saw a modest 2% rise in Q1 2015 but ad spend on broadcast TV was down -12% for the period.

In addition to TV, digital drove a 23% growth of the overall ad market in Q1 2015.Digital's market share of total ad dollars also jumped 5 points in Q1 against last year.

"A nice uptick in scatter dollars fueled national TV growth in March, which is certainly a good sign for the health of the ad marketplace," said Scott Grunther, SMI's executive vice president of media. "The solid growth figures when you remove the impact of the winter games from last year provides reason for networks to be more optimistic heading into upfront season."