TV FOCUS NOW IS ON SCATTER MARKET
Amid all the recent reports of advertisers moving money from television budgets to digital, analyst Marci Ryvicker at Wells Fargo Securities has been checking with sources on the buy and sell sides of both broadcast and digital media. While there has been some shifting of money into digital, she told clients that her contacts describe the acceleration as “moderate” and they are looking for the TV scatter market to be stronger than some on Wall Street have feared.
In a detailed research report, Ryvicker pointed to one quote in particular from a digital media executive, who suggested that the weakness in traditional TV is cyclical rather than secular. “Look, you have 20-something year old kids from B-school coming into these big firms trying to ‘make a difference’ by allocating a…ton of money to digital platforms—only to realize they don’t always work. We are going to see money come back to television in the scatter market –we always do,” the unidentified digital media exec said.
So, at the national level, keep an eye on the scatter market. Coming off of the first cable decline and the second broadcast network decline in total Upfront dollars since the Great Recession, the beginning of the new TV season will bring the first evidence of trends for scatter. Based on anecdotal data points to date, Ryvicker says “It sounds like advertisers have held back in order to place ads closer to air time.”
Cable is actually gaining share from national advertisers, Ryvicker said after crunching numbers for the 20 largest national advertisers, with spending up 7% from 2011 through 2013. “Most of the ‘hemorrhaging’ to digital is still coming from print—mainly newspapers (-21% 2013 vs. 2011) and magazines (-4%)—as well as from radio (-8%),” she wrote, adding, “We would
characterize both Broadcast TV and outdoor as ‘at risk’ given their low-to-no growth levels.”
All but five of the 20 largest national advertisers increased total ad spending from 2011 through 2013, boosting spending by an average 6%. That allowed for digital ad spend to go up by 12% 2011-2013, while spending on traditional media was relatively flat. The analyst also noted that year-over-year sales growth for those big advertisers was highest when spending on both traditional media and digital was increased.
At the station level, Ryvicker said her contacts characterize local spot as “stable” and national as still down, but improving more now than when the publicly traded groups had their last round of Wall Street conference calls. “Political buys are starting to come in with more vigor, which is a positive first and foremost for TV station groups; we also hear political is helping regional cable,” Ryvicker told clients.