TV Ratings Down, Ad Rates Up, Again

Be increasingly wary when the network TV bosses boast about their strong “scatter” ads — they’re actually describing a shrinking business.

As we’ve discussed before, pricing for “scatter” ads — the ads advertisers buy on the fly, instead of prepurchasing during spring “upfronts” — rise as ratings go down: As viewers abandon network TV, the ones who remain become more valuable to advertisers, who still feel most comfortable with television. And after a month or so of strike-afflicted TV, scatter is getting even more expensive. MediaWeek says pricing is now 40% more expensive than it was last spring.

Says GroupM chief Rino Scanzoni: “No one is happy paying these increases when the ratings are down as much as they are. But it’s a supply and demand business, and demand right now is bigger than the supply.”

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