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TV Posts Big Gains at Start of New Broadcast Year

New York, 18th Oct 2015 – With the fall TV season in full swing and the NFL season starting to build, television ad sales in October catapulted the U.S. ad market to record its best month this year, according to global data company Standard Media Index’s (SMI) latest data released today.

Total ad bookings in the market rose by +15% in October, boosted by robust television ad sales which helped almost all parts of the TV sector grow in the double-digit range and kick off the 2015-16 broadcast year with a bang.

A hefty jump in national TV advertising was responsible for the sector’s growth in the past month. Cable (+9%) and broadcast (+12%) ad revenues rose markedly in a year-over-year comparison thanks to higher upfront pricing, a vibrant scatter market and a strong start to the football season.

In tandem with TV’s positive results, SMI’s data showed digital media (+34%), out of home (+19%) and newspaper (+6%) spending also spiked to round out the month.

“Everyone had a gut feeling that quality original programming, a solid upfront and great football ratings were delivering strong numbers and now we have the results to back this up. 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 James Fennessy, SMI’s chief commercial officer.

“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.”

Interestingly, SMI’s market insights showed that the strong October result is the best performance for broadcast TV since January 2014.


  • Reporting on 80% of national ad spending from global agencies, total television bookings were up +10% for October, but remain down -3% for the overall calendar year-to-date.
  • SMI’s data recorded a stellar month for upfront ad spending. The market increased by +11%, signaling a strong result off the back of this year’s upfront negotiations. Broadcast was up +10% and cable grew by 12%.
  • The scatter market delivered a 19% YOY gain for broadcast but was flat for cable.
  • All four major networks saw ad sales growth in October 2015. CBS, ABC and NBC – helped by its broadcast of the 2015 Presidents Cup – all showed double-digit rises thanks to the rising popularity of new fall TV programming.
  • Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo both saw healthy growth in October.
  • Cable networks ESPN, MTV, HGTV and ABC Family attracted significant double-digit percentage increases in October.
  • Ad spend volumes across digital media jumped by +34% for October. Social media websites (+129%), video sites (+70%) and internet radio (+47%) beefed up growth for the sector. The digital market holds a 31% share of the total advertising pie.
  • Advertising on content sites such as (+22%) and programmatic media (+35%) make up the biggest share of the digital market in October.
  • SMI’s data showed that the out of home sector recorded an +19% year-on-year increase in October, rebounding with the robust growth seen earlier in 2015 despite a sharp drop in the previous month. It has a 3.5% market share of SMI’s total ad spend.
  • In the print market, newspaper spending heated up with +6% YoY growth in October however the magazine market was flat.
  • Radio ad revenues took a -11% dive when compared to the same time last year.
  • The top growth categories for October in a year-on-year performance basis were non-alcoholic beverages (+51%), prescription pharmaceuticals (+50%) and entertainment (+24%).

SMI captures 80% of total U.S. agency spend exclusively from the booking systems of five of the six global media holding groups, as well as leading independents. It reports monthly on actual spend data and is the clearest picture of the flow of dollars across the sector.

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