TVB Forecasts TV Spot Revenue Turnaround

The TV business has been hammered so hard and so long by a laundry list of factors topped by the economy and a sinking auto category, that prospects can only get better in 2010. Coming off double-digit declines in 2009, total TV spot revenue is expected to increase between 3.6 percent and 6.1 percent, according to the Television Bureau of Advertising’s forecast released Thursday (Sept. 10).

Local spot will continue to be the weakest segment, inching up only 1 percent to 3 percent next year. National spot is expected to jump 6 percent to 12 percent. Revenue from station Web sites will grow 18 percent to $1.3 billion, according to Borrell Associates. Mobile, still in the experimental stage, will climb 50 percent.

While the growth of additional revenue streams—including Internet, mobile, digital sub-channels and retransmission consent—are helping to offset some declines in TV station revenue, they still make up only a small percentage of TV revenue, collectively about 10 percent, according to the TVB. In 2010, it will inch up to about 13 percent, with Internet and retransmission revenue each accounting for 5.3 percent, followed by 1.5 percent from digital sub-channels and 0.7 percent from mobile.

In large part, station revenue performance in 2010 will be dependent on two key categories, automotive and political, said Chris Rohrs, president of the TVB.

TV generally does well in an election year, pulling in the lion’s share of dollars. But the prospects for auto are less certain. Auto has been slipping steadily since 2002 when auto spending represented more than 30 percent of spot TV dollars. By the first half of 2008, share of auto spending in spot fell to 27.7 percent, crashing to 19.3 percent in the first half of 2009.

The TVB’s estimates were derived from a consensus of Wall Street and financial analysts, station rep firms and independent TVB research.