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3Q 2013: Long-Form Media Billings Stumble Yet Again

1 Jan, 2014 By: Thomas Haire Response

The recent spending trend shifting from cable to satellite becomes undeniable — one reason why overall dollars declined 5.2 percent in 3Q 2013.

Response’s long-form media billings research for third-quarter 2013 shows measured results dropping for a fourth consecutive quarter — this time falling 5.2 percent from 3Q 2012 results to land at $223,944,600 (the lowest total in a third quarter in nine years).

Though the drop isn’t massive (just more than $12 million compared to the same timeframe a year ago), it is a bit of a disappointment considering the lack of Olympic and election advertising that hampered 3Q spending a year ago. However, an explanation for 2013’s dollar-on-dollar struggles is becoming clearer: a massive shift in time slots purchased away from national cable and into the less expensive satellite space.

Putting Makeup on a Pig

While nine of the 15 categories saw a decrease in spending in third-quarter 2013, the “Cosmetics, Hair and Personal Care” category — nearly singlehandedly — saved the quarter from disaster. This category saw a $21.8 million increase — more than $20 million higher than the next best dollar-on-dollar gainer, the “Fundraising” category, which rose almost $1.2 million.

On the down side, just three categories combined — “Diet, Weight Loss, Nutrition and Food” ($10.7 million), “Health and Fitness” ($7.6 million) and “Home and Garden” ($5.9 million) — combined to wipe out the “Cosmetics” category’s gain. And two other categories zeroed out completely in 3Q 2013: “Automotive” and “Crafts, Collectibles and Hobbies.”

Satellite Pushing Cable for No. 2

Once again, the satellite category became the only measured form of distribution to notch a gain — for the third consecutive period in 2013. Satellite’s $11.3 million jump (72.4 percent) helped it add a stunning 5.4 points of market share. Meanwhile, broadcast added 0.4 points of market share by losing only $4.2 million. Taking the brunt of the quarter’s pain were cable (down $15.7 million, or 4.4 points in market share) and U.S. Hispanic (off by $3.6 million, losing 1.4 points of share).

The total number of time slots purchased rose by 2.8 percent from the same quarter in 2013. With the cost of a half-hour block off 7.7 percent to $385.61, the newfound power of the satellite distribution channel was highlighted again. Satellite time slots were up 143 percent from 3Q 2012, helping the outlet add 9.2 points of market share and pass cable as the second most popular medium by this measure. Broadcast remains the far-and-away leader, representing nearly 65 percent of time slots purchased, with satellite now accounting for 15.9 percent, cable 15.2 percent, and U.S. Hispanic 4 percent.

Top 10 Markets Step Back

Spending in the top 30 markets stumbled in the third quarter, dipping to $65,615,800, a 14.8-percent loss when compared to the same quarter of last year. The top 30 markets represented 29.3 percent of total spending, trending back toward 3Q 2011 results. The top 10 markets took in 15.8 percent of all spending.

After a horrible first quarter, the second and third quarters of 2013 have provided some more stability to a long-form DRTV marketplace that still sees dollar-on-dollar results dwindling. However, the increasing trend of dollars moving from cable to satellite is becoming the clearest explanation. With the average cost of a 30-minute block on cable butting up against $1,100 this quarter, while the same block on satellite averaged just less than $300, it becomes easy to see why time slots purchased are either stable — or up — for most of the year, while total spending struggles to match 2012’s banner year. ■

About the Author: Thomas Haire

Thomas Haire

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