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Cable TV and Digital Advertising Jumped in May Heading Into

HGTV shows like Fixer Upper drove the channel to double-digit year-over-year ad increases. Rachel Whyte

TV and digital advertising got a bit of a boost in May going into this year's upfronts, according to new data from Standard Media Index.

In the findings from SMI, which tracks 70 percent of national ad spending from global and independent agencies, cable TV advertising was up 6 percent compared with last May, while broadcast advertising fell 1 percent from last year.

Season-to-date (October to May) broadcast advertising increased 7 percent, and cable jumped 2 percent over the same period last year.

Upfront spending was up 2 percent season to date over last year, while scatter jumped an astounding 16 percent. (Network and company chiefs cited that robust market as they predicted a strong upfront, but buyers are standing their ground, which has slowed down upfront negotiations overall. Viacom, however, wrapped its upfront business last Thursday.)

TV upfront advertising was up 5 percent in May compared with last year—a 10 percent gain for cable and a 3 percent drop for broadcast—while scatter increased 5 percent during the same time frame (6 percent for cable and 4 percent for broadcast).

Univision and Telemundo had the biggest broadcast year-over-year ad gains in May. On the cable side, AMC, HGTV and Discovery Channel had double-digit percentage point gains over last May. The news was grimmer for Comedy Central and History, which had decreases from last year.

"Off the back of May's strong results, we expect the networks to deliver very healthy upfront increases in the coming weeks, " said SMI CEO James Fennessy in a statement. "A 16 percent increase in scatter dollars through the first half of the broadcast year proves that advertisers are moving money back to TV after some experimentation in digital last year, which didn't drive the results brands were hoping for."

Fennessy added, "It is also fascinating to see the big slowdown in search dollars and the recognition that digital video is where a lot of the action will be happening in the coming months. Excellent new video products from both traditional and new media are capturing an increasing share of the market and we expect this to accelerate as greater and better inventory becomes available."

According to SMI's data, the TV ad market was up 4 percent overall in May, led by a 14 percent jump in local and MSO cable, 12 percent in syndication, 6 percent each in cable and spot TV, and a 1 percent drop in broadcast TV.

The digital ad market, meanwhile, jumped 15 percent overall, with huge increases for video sites (55 percent) and social media sites (44 percent). Internet radio was up 23 percent, and ad networks/ad exchange jumped 28 percent. Search, the largest digital category, was down 10 percent, while TV network digital was down 3 percent.

In other categories, there were year-over-year losses for both magazines (2 percent) and newspapers (8 percent), while radio jumped 13 percent.

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