Spot TV revenue in the first quarter of this year fell 2% compared to the same quarter last year, but core revenue, which excludes political spending, gained a modest 1.7% as auto advertisers continued to spend freely, according to Matrix Solutions.
“If you look at core overall, to be up about 2% to me is not bad, but if you go back and compare to 2011 [up 5.1%], I think it is starting to show a pretty decent story,” says Matrix President D.J. Cavanaugh.
Matrix is a Pittsburgh-based supplier of customer-relations and sales management software. Matrix’s quarterly local TV sales report, exclusive to TVNewsCheck, is based on sales data from more than 400 client TV stations. It includes revenue from station-specific websites and digital subchannels.
Total auto spending was up 8.8% in the quarter. Although factory spending (Tier 1) was about flat, dealer associations (Tier 2) rose 15.3% and local dealers (Tier 3) was up nearly 7%.
Cavanaugh says the weakness in factory spending is no cause for alarm. The auto makers appear to be spending more through the dealer associations, he says. “It would concern me only if Tier 2 were down as well.”
Of the other major ad categories for spot, he says, financial/insurance/real estate and furniture were up in the quarter over 2012 (2.6% and 5.6%, respectively) and healthcare and restaurants were down (0.3% and 1.9%, respectively).
That the real estate market is picking up strength across the country bodes well for the financial and furniture categories, Cavanaugh says. “Health care to me is a wild card,” he says. Depending on how federal health care reform plays out, it could become a much bigger spender.
One large category that took a hit is “Products” or packaged goods, which represent companies like Procter & Gamble, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson. It was off 46.6% in the quarter. Cavanaugh had no explanation, but speculated that it may reflect one of the major manufacturers deciding to “take a hiatus” from spot in the quarter.
Other high-growth categories in the quarter: department stores (up 25.1%), supermarkets/grocery stores ( up 33.3%) and telecommunications (up 13.4%).