TV Advertising Boom Despite Economic Worries

Print media isn't faring quite as well

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The economy might be in a precarious state, but according to The New York Times, you wouldn’t know it from the way that advertisers are still dropping big bucks on TV.

Last week, as the stock market plummeted, TV companies like CBS, Viacom, and Time Warner all reported strong television revenue thanks to increased ad spending. When asked whether the poor economy would affect TV advertising, they all said that the current ad market was healthy, and maintained an optimistic outlook for the fall season.

This spring saw a strong upfront period, and while advertisers have the option to back out of their agreements several weeks before the start of the new season, CBS CEO Les Moonves told investors last week, “We have seen absolutely none of that.” Instead, he said CBS has seen “increased demand for our shows.”

The scatter ad market has also continued to boom. Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said last week that scatter pricing was up more than 10 percent in the quarter ending in June, driving a 12 percent gain in domestic ad sales in the spring. He also predicted double-digit growth for the summer.

Media executives told the Times that this optimism was based on the fact that television is a “tried and true medium for advertisers” and is considered a safer media to bet ad dollars on.

Meanwhile, things aren’t looking quite as good for publishers. The Washington Post said on Friday that print advertising revenues was down 12 percent in the second quarter, while revenue from display ads on its websites dropped 16 percent. The New York Times had a 6.4 percent decline in print ad revenues in the quarter but a 2.6 percent increase in online advertising. Time Warner’s publishing arm had a 1 percent gain in ad revenue, but said that both advertising and newsstand sales were weak.

@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.