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4Q 2007 Long-Form Results Slide $30 Million

1 Apr, 2008 By: Shay Moftakhar Response

Total 2007 long-form billings show a $62.7 million decline.

Long-form media billings in fourth-quarter 2007 slid $30 million — a 9.2-percent drop from 4Q 2006 results, closing the year with a three-month total of $297,045,200. This marks the first time that fourth-quarter media billings have declined since 2001 and the first sub-$300 million quarter since 3Q 2005, breaking a streak of eight consecutive $300 million-plus quarters.

Figure 1
Figure 1

Much of the demise likely can be attributed to the writers' strike during the fourth quarter that turned away droves of late-night viewers fed up with stale talk-show repeats. Perhaps late-night audiences turned their energies to other activities — like catching up on their sleep. Overall spending for the year was just less than $1.21 billion, down $62.7 million from last year's $1.27 billion.

The 32 and 2/3 Loss Factor

Akin to the 4Q 2006, only six categories reported gains this fourth quarter. "Home and Garden" earned top dollar-gainer credit with a $14.5 million boost (a 187-percent rise). However, "Crafts, Collectibles and Hobbies" scored top percentage gainer honors with a 189-percent rise ($2 million). "Entertainment, Travel and Psychic Services" put on a show with a 176-percent increase of $3.3 million, while "Automotive" stayed in the race with an impressive 118-percent push of $748,000.

Figure 2
Figure 2

The "Financial and Business Opportunities" category lay to rest its recent fourth-quarter triumphs with a 32.7-percent demise of $22.5 million, the largest dollar loss of any category in 4Q 2007. This is in stark contrast to its 33.1-and 118-percent advances of the past two fourth quarters. "Health and Fitness" lost nearly $13.9 million, a 20.4-percent slide, while "Fundraising" suffered the highest percentage decline with a 60.7-percent loss of $1.6 million.

10 in a Row

Mimicking second-quarter 2007, none of the three forms of media distribution reported gains, while all three forms had gains during both the second and fourth quarters of 2006. National cable held steady with a tiny 0.4-percent drop — losing just half a million dollars. Broadcast took the brunt of the fall with a 15-percent tumble of $24.2 million, and satellite was grounded with a brutal 21.3-percent slap of $5.2 million.

Figure 3
Figure 3

The total number of timeslots purchased continued to stay above 400,000 for the 10th consecutive quarter, ending with 448,060 time slots in 4Q 2007. However, this was a 5.4-percent decrease from 4Q 2006's record 473,518 slots.

National cable's market share declined by 0.2 percentage points to 23.5 percent — 7,129 fewer timeslots were purchased. Broadcast gained 4.1 points of market share with 1,636 extra slots. Satellite suffered the toughest decline with 19,875 fewer timeslots purchased, shrinking its market share by 3.9 points. The average cost of a half-hour block of time was the only bright side to this story, with a 4-percent decrease, falling to $662.96 from $690.68.

Figure 4
Figure 4

Since 2Q 2007, spending in the top 30 markets has declined. But during 4Q, the number remained astonishingly stable. Total spending in the top 30 markets decreased by a tiny 0.4 percent (or $584,400). In fact, due to the sharp decline in overall spending, top 30 spending this quarter represented 50.9 percent of the total, up five points from 4Q 2006's 45.9 percent. The top 10 markets only lost 2 percent ($1.5 million). Markets 11-20 fell an even 10 percent, losing $4.9 million. Markets 21-30 recouped those losses and more with a 19.2-percent rebound of $5.83 million.

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