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Q2 Linear TV Marketplace Summary



Competitive Marketplace Continues into Q2

As previously reported last quarter in Media Impact Report No. 53, the linear TV marketplace remained tight in April and continues into May. The majority of cable network groups have indicated there is reduced direct response (DR) inventory available in Q2 compared to Q1 primarily due to general advertisers making larger commitments in Q2 than in Q1. With less inventory available to DR advertisers and demand for time remaining high, rates will continue to be competitive.

Several networks have commented that the marketplace is not as opportunistic as we saw at the beginning of this year. Syndication still has weekly availability, although some shows that had inventory in Q1 are sold out for Q2. Broadcast network avails vary week-to-week, with limited opportunities in the first part of April. The number of advertisers in the market continues to be high. Networks indicated that the majority of advertisers did not pull back heading into April, instead many increased spending for the new quarter.

As we head into June, there are no signs of the marketplace loosening up anytime soon. Currently, networks are projecting the market will remain competitive; however, several have indicated inventory levels and demand may change but it is still too early to be certain. ADUs (audience delivery units) may impact avails in June–networks have indicated that it is already challenging to find available inventory to offer as ADUs to make sure guaranteed deals are achieving the impressions promised.

Despite the competitive nature of the market, we are still seeing handfuls of opportunities each week across broadcast networks and syndication. However, the specific programs and number of avails vary greatly from week to week.

Our Buyers’ Read on the Quarter

As you’ve gathered, the media marketplace is a very competitive environment, but there are still areas that have pockets of inventory available. Weekly avails in broadcast networks across multiple dayparts, as well as syndication, are available. However, the programming varies weekly, as does the quantity of avails for each show. National cable networks indicate that they have higher general scatter spend in Q2 versus Q1, which impacts how much inventory is available in the DR space. Overall, prime and weekend dayparts have the least amount of inventory. Many networks indicate that there are opportunities in the early fringe and late fringe, but the majority of networks indicate deeply discounted, opportunistic media is few and far between. For clients interested in high profile sports, there are still deals to be had. We’ve continued to see avails in high profile events, most recently the NBA Eastern Conference Finals. There is still good inventory coming our way even with a tightening marketplace. Having a game plan established for jumping on these larger opportunities is key.

Where Things Could Remain Flat or Tighten Up

Given this year is an election year, we continue to see strong viewership and demand for time across the news properties. In news, we’ve seen increased demand and pre-emptions over the last month, and rates have been steadily increasing. Clients who are heavily invested in news should re-evaluate if they need to make any adjustments to their schedules to maintain overall news clearance levels. Political spending itself is not ramped up just yet; however, networks are anticipating that investment will begin in Q3 and carry into Q4–this is across news, as well as entertainment-based networks.

Who’s In, Who’s Out?

Pharmaceuticals (bipolar, allergy season), home improvement and lawn care are spending as they typically do this time of year. In addition, other top-spending categories include financial (including tax services through mid-April), travel, and automotive. Several networks have mentioned that advertisers across both general and DR increased budgets going into Q2.

2024 Factors

Multiple elements to watch throughout the year that may impact the marketplace:

  • Return of original, scripted programming
  • Political election season
  • Summer Olympics (7/26-8/11)
  • Overall changes to the macroeconomic climate

What Gives?

Supply and demand are creating a competitive Q2 marketplace. With many networks having less inventory to sell in both the DR and scatter markets combined with the large number of advertisers remaining in-market, the demand for less time is creating an environment where we see higher rates and less inventory to choose from.

What to Do and What are Other Clients Doing?

Remain Flexible & Nimble: Establish monthly or quarterly budget goals early, optimize weekly, book quarterly and in advance, layer on standing offers, and traffic creative to “plan B” stations/networks for last-minute inventory.

Front Load and Consider Scatter Market Deals: Given the upcoming headwinds with elections and the Olympics, clients that can spend now should try to get ahead of their sales goals. For clients that need to spend on some coveted stations/networks, we can explore quarterly scatter market deals (most will come at a premium).

Spanish Language Creative and Media: There are 64.9M Hispanics in the U.S. 42% watch cable TV. 72% over the age of 5 are English proficient. Media is low cost. English-speaking spots can run on Hispanic stations. Spots can be dubbed in Spanish for an initial test where needed.

Syndication and Closed-Captioning: Expand reach. Weekly game and judge shows that do well can be purchased weekly at firesale rates. There are 20-second closed captioning opportunities on Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.

Test Different Spot Lengths: Marry spots together to create different tape lengths (i.e. back-to-back: 30’s to create a :60). Available lengths are :15, :20, :30, :60, :120, 3-minute, 5-minute, and 28:30.

Build Content Arsenal & Offer Testing: Build a content library. Leverage existing assets as well as new footage to develop new spots. Create a promo calendar and test new offers.

Opportunistic & Guaranteed Media: Provide team with guardrails for taking firesales so they can react quickly. They can also be leveraged as Guaranteed Media (Phone Leads, CPM, Spike Volume, etc).

This article is featured in Media Impact Report No. 55. View the full report here.