Linear TV Ad Spending Fell 7% in Q4, Guideline Says

 Spending decline.
Spending decline.

Advertising spending on linear television fell 7% in the fourth quarter from the prior year, according to ad intelligence company Guideline.

Guideline, which acquired Standard Media Index in 2022, said the decline was the biggest since it started tracking U.S. ad spending in 2017.

Since Q4 2017, ad spending on linear TV has been falling at an average compounded rate of 3.4%.

With the writers and actors strikes disrupting production of scripted programming, spending on entertainment premieres was down 27%, Guideline side.

Overall spending on entertainment programming was down 16% in the quarter as viewing continues its shift to streaming.

Linear TV’s bright spot was live sports, which were up 3.4% in the quarter. National Football League programming led the way, drawing 22% more in ad spending than a year ago.

“Q4 2023 represented a microcosm of the U.S. national linear TV landscape. Live sports ad revenue and market share alike crested, thanks to the NFL, while entertainment programming waned to a trough, amid a challenging climate of labor strikes and streaming services,” Nicole McCurnin, insights director at Guideline, said.

Spending on news programming was down 7% in the quarter, but Guideline said it expects spending to kick up in 2024 because of the presidential election.

Guideline found that the only key product category that increased spending in Q4 was pharmaceuticals, which registered a 3.5% gain in spending.

Guideline ad-spending data comes from invoices in the computer systems of all major media-buying holding companies and most major independent buyers.