US TV advertising (cable and broadcast) will grow a mere 1.5% in the US in 2008, growth that is entirely attributable to the Summer Olympics and the 2008 Presidential election, according to research firm Screen Digest. When those quadrennial bumps go away next year US TV advertising will drop 2%.
The more promising news for TV: Screen Digest is optimistic about the networks’ ability to convert their business to digital. Overall TV revenues will grow at a 3.9% rate, the firm predicts, due in part to the addition of digital revenues, which will grow at a 17% rate through 2012. Digital revenue (ads, subscriptions, etc.) and the recovery of TV advertising start to have an impact in 2010, when overall growth increases to 6% annually through 2012.
If 2009 brings a pullback, we may start to see it in the May Upfronts, when the U.S. TV networks pre-sell as much as 80% of their ad inventory for the 2008-2009 season. Demand is expected to be strong in the Upfront, but total dollars could still go down, especially for broadcast, due to declining ratings.