October Was Broadcast TV’s Best Advertising Month Since January 2014

Standard Media Index tracked month's big gains

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Perhaps the sky isn't falling after all when it comes to television advertising. Robust TV ad sales in October, as the new television season kicked off, drove the U.S. ad market to its best month this year, according to new data from Standard Media Index (SMI).

In the findings from SMI, which tracks 80 percent of national ad spending from global agencies, broadcast ad revenue was up 12 percent over last October, while cable revenues jumped 9 percent, thanks to upfront price increases, a healthy scatter market (ad time bought during the season as opposed to upfronts) and the football season. It was broadcast TV's best month since January 2014, according to SMI. (Spot TV was up 5 percent, and local/MSO cable was up 18 percent, while syndication ad spending dropped 8 percent.)

Ad sales were up 15 percent overall for all media, with declines in radio and magazines offset by big digital gains.

"The performance of national television is very exciting given the doldrums we were in over the summer. Media owners are justifiably looking forward to a bumper holiday season," said SMI chief commercial officer James Fennessy in a statement. "While recent C3 ratings continue to be soft, the networks seem to be doing a great job of demonstrating to brands that their C7 performance and well-engaged and targeted audiences more than make up for any shortfalls."

SMI found that TV bookings overall were up 10 percent in October but down 3 percent for the calendar year to date.

Upfront ad spending was up 11 percent compared with October 2014 (10 percent for broadcast and 12 percent for cable). Scatter was up an impressive 19 percent for broadcast but down 1 percent for cable.

Fall TV programming led to double-digit ad sales growth for CBS, ABC and NBC, while Fox was also up compared with last October. As for the cable networks, ESPN, MTV, HGTV and ABC Family enjoyed double-digit increases as well.

There were also spikes in spending for digital media (34 percent), out of home (19 percent) and newspaper (6 percent).

On the digital side, there were big increases in content sites like Yahoo (22 percent), programmatic media (35 percent), social media websites (129 percent), video sites (70 percent) and Internet radio (47 percent). Digital TV network spending was up 21 percent. 

The news was not as good for more traditional media: Magazine ad spending dropped 1 percent with radio plummeting 11 percent.

@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV/Media Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.