US TV Ad Revenues 4% Down in Q2 - But TV is Still Preferred News Source

19 August 2008

NEW YORK: As the shadow of imminent recession continues to loom, the fuzzy end of the US economic lollipop drove down broadcast TV ad revenues in the second quarter of 2008, depressing income by 4% year-on-year.

While for the January-June half-year ad income fell by 1.3%, reports the Television Bureau of Advertising.
According to TNS Media Intelligence, Q2 saw network TV ad revenue dive 4.8%, while local broadcast income was worse than doubly dire at minus 9.1%. Averaged across H1, the respective numbers for each broadcast sector were minus 1.5%, minus 3.8% and plus 10.2%.

Within the twenty-five highest-spending TV-ad categories, seventeen expended less than in the year-ago period; while only eight spent more  …

  • Automotive (the top spender) was down 17%;
  • Telecommunications dipped 2.3%;
  • Restaurants fell 3.3%;
  • Car and truck dealers fell 13.8%.
But despite its advertising woes, TV remains America's preferred source of news, according to the Pew Research Center's biannual survey on news-consumption habits, released Sunday.

The medium has so far fended-off the incursions of online news media, whose gains have mainly been at the expense of newspapers.

The picture in broad brush-strokes is that younger people tend to get more of their news via the web; while older folk continue to peruse traditional sources such as TV and newspapers'

And although there is an increasing shift toward online news consumption, a substantial group of more engaged, sophisticated and well-off people (23% of those surveyed) now browse both traditional and online news sources. 

Pew researchers terms them "integrators".

Comments the survey: "Like web-oriented news consumers, integrators are affluent and highly educated. However, they are older, on average, than those who consider the internet their main source of news." 

Pew found that 46% of those polled have a "heavy reliance" on TV for news at all times of the day. This group is the oldest, with a median age of 52.

The group most reliant on the web for news is the youngest, at a median age of 35. It is also the smallest (13% of those polled). Fewer than half of them watch TV news on a regular basis. Eighty percent of this group has a college education and they are twice as likely to read an online newspaper as a printed version.

The telephone survey sampled 3,615 individuals aged 18 and over between April 30-June 1, claiming a margin of error of two percentage points.

Data sourced from and Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff