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Ad revenues drop due to economy

Media buyers cautious in spending

A shaky overall economy led the Big Four broadcast networks, the CW and MyNetworkTV to a collective 3% dropoff in advertising revenues for the first nine months of the year.

That’s the word from TNS Media Intelligence, which tracks Madison Avenue data and is somewhat nervous about whether the network biz will recover next year, even amid the usual powerful stimuli of the Olympics and the presidential election.

“There’s this continued uncertainty in the economy that has made media buyers cautious about their spending plans,” said Jon Swallen, senior VP of research for TNS Media Intelligence. He added that the mortgage-lending crisis, which could result in millions of foreclosures over the next two years, could take so much money out of people’s pockets that advertisers would hold back on buying TV spots.

Ad spending for spot TV in local-station markets fell off more than any other media category (including magazines, newspapers and radio) in the first nine months, dipping 6.8%. Ad spend for national-barter time in syndicated TV shows dipped 4.6%.

The only category within “television media” to see ad revenues grow year to year was cable TV, which climbed 4.7% to $12.7 billion, still well below the $16.1 billion racked up by the broadcast networks.

The fastest growing of all categories by far was the Internet, whose ad revs shot up by 17.2% in the nine months to $8.38 billion.

One sign of the sluggishness in TV media was the growth of direct-response ads, which rose by 15.1%, climbing faster than any other advertiser category among the top 10. The leading category was financial services, which went up by 5.5% to $6.68 billion.

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