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Long-Form DRTV

Long-Form Media Billings Rebound $2.6 Million in 4Q 2009

8 Apr, 2010 By: Thomas Haire Response

A tough year closes on a positive note, but total 2009 long-form billings decline $64.5 million.


Bookending historic second- and third-quarter results, fourth-quarter 2009 long-form DRTV media billings mirrored 1Q 2009 results, experiencing a 1-percent bounce back, with the total of $275,230,400 reflecting a $2.6 million jump compared to the same quarter in 2008. This is the first growth reflected during a fourth quarter since 2006, but the results are still lagging more than $50 million behind that record 4Q.

Total 2009 long-form media spending was $1,108,578,500 — down 5.5 percent (more than $64.5 million) from 2008’s total. This year’s overall loss was similar to 2007’s year-on-year decline, both in dollars and percentage. Still, after the year’s second and third quarters featured record-low pricing on 30-minute buys (and the resulting record number of timeslots purchased in each quarter), it must be heartening for both sides of the media industry to see a solidification of the market. The price of long-form media rebounded slightly, but the number of timeslots purchased was barely affected, compared to the results of earlier quarters in 2009.

Housewares, Health and Home Lead Winners

Ten of the 15 measured categories reported gains in 4Q 2009. The “Housewares and Appliances” category was the biggest dollar gainer, adding $21.5 million (60.2 percent) to its 4Q 2008 total to become the quarter’s strongest category. “Health and Fitness” ($5.7 million) and “Home and Garden” ($3.4 million) rounded out the top-three dollar gainers. The “Automotive” category, while one of the smaller overall categories (totaling just more than $2 million), earned the highest advance based on percentage, more than doubling its money from 4Q 2008. The “Sports and Outdoor Activities” (59.4 percent) and “Music and Video” (48.8 percent) categories also enjoyed healthy gains.

The “Other” category was the quarter’s biggest dollar-on-dollar and percentage loser. After jumping up $24 million in 4Q 2008, the category lost that and more, dropping $26.5 million (90.8 percent) in 4Q 2009. “Health and Fitness” lost nearly $5.7 million, while the “Electronics” category’s $935,700 drop made it the second-worst percentage loser, shaving more than 13 percent from 4Q 2008.

Time Slot Sales Stay High While Prices Stabilize

The national cable outlet bounced back strong from a tough fourth quarter a year ago, gaining more than $7.4 million (5.4 percent) and earning back 2.2 percent of lost market share. The broadcast outlet suffered a much smaller loss than in 4Q 2008, losing more than $8.2 million (7.1 percent). The satellite outlet had a great 4Q 2009, jumping up 17.7 percent ($3.4 million).

The time-slot onslaught continued, as 4Q 2009 saw 600,061 time slots purchased, an all-time fourth-quarter record, but only the third-highest quarterly total in 2009. The total represented a 39.8-percent increase over 4Q 2008. All three outlets were up sharply: national cable’s market share rose 0.8 percentage points, as 44,305 more time slots were purchased; broadcast enjoyed a 0.7-point market share bump to 68.3 percent, thanks to adding nearly 120,000 time slots; and though satellite enjoyed a 17.6-percent jump in total time slots purchased, its share of the market actually fell 1.5 points.

While the average cost of a half-hour block of time when measured against 4Q 2008’s $635.14 appeared to be in a 27.8-percent freefall — landing at $458.67 for 4Q 2009 — the number actually represented a stabilization compared to results measured in 2Q and 3Q 2009. In fact, fourth quarter was the first three-month span in 2009 that did not break the previous all-time record low cost for a half-hour. The 4Q figure lands between 1Q and 2Q 2009 measurements, bringing a stop to what had been steep price drops.

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