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Long-Form Media Billings Falter to Open 2013

1 Jul, 2013 By: Thomas Haire Response

An 8.5-percent loss is triggered by steep drops in the diet-and-weight-loss and home-and-garden categories, while DR marketers pull back on the total number of time slots purchased by more than 10 percent.

Response’s first-quarter 2013 DRTV media billings research reflects much of the buzz heard around the business in the early part of the year, as overall billings decreased by $24.7 million (8.5 percent) compared to 1Q 2012. The quarter’s total — $264,469,200 — was the lowest for any first quarter since 2005, the year before a long-form media boom that would last until the end of the previous decade.

It was a tough quarter across the board as nearly all indicators — spending in the top 30 markets, total timeslots purchased and purchasing across all four outlets of media distribution — were down. In fact, the only indicator showing an uptick is likely the one media buyers would rather not see rising: the average cost of a 30-minute block of time rose by 2 percent.

A ‘Cosmetic’ Improvement

Just three of the 15 measured categories reported gains in 1Q 2013 — a rather disturbing result. “Cosmetics, Hair and Personal Care” enjoyed the greatest dollar gain ($11.2 million, up 16.1 percent), with “Health and Fitness” just behind — $10.7 million (12.5 percent). Only the “Other” category, with a $761,600 rise, also made it into the black in 1Q 2013.

Meanwhile, “Diet, Weight Loss, Nutrition and Food” suffered a complete turnaround from its first-quarter jump of $10.9 million a year ago, suffering the worst dollar-on-dollar decline — $16.8 million. The “Home and Garden” category also struggled, dropping $7.3 million from its 1Q 2012 totals. The “Crafts, Collectibles and Hobbies” space suffered the greatest percentage decrease, losing every penny of its nearly $1.5 million a year ago. The “Electronics” and “Entertainment, Travel and Psychic Services” categories also suffered significant percentage losses, dropping 81.7 percent ($1.2 million) and 67.3 percent ($2.7 million), respectively.

Down, Down, Down

Three of the four media outlets posted losses compared to first-quarter 2012. Only satellite boasted a gain, with a $4.1 million rise (21.1 percent) helping it pick up 2.2 points of market share. National cable ($11 million), broadcast ($13.7 million) and U.S. Hispanic ($4.1 million) all suffered noticeable drops, which helped the cable outlet hold on to its overall market share lead (46.8 percent of dollars spent on long-form DRTV media in 1Q 2013 went to the outlet).

While spending in the top 30 markets was off by just more than $2 million, markets 11-20 and markets 21-30 provided two small glimmers of positivity for a dour first quarter. Spending in markets 11-20 rose $2.5 million (8.5 percent), while markets 21-30 saw a $1 million jump (7 percent).

The total number of time slots purchased slid by 62,751 (10.3 percent) in first-quarter 2013, with all four media outlets dropping, none worse than national cable, which lost nearly a quarter of its 1Q 2012 total. The broadcast outlet remained the leader in time slots, owning nearly two-thirds of market share despite dropping nearly 19,000 spots from the same quarter a year ago.

After a solid performance in 2012, the rumblings of struggle started early in 2013 and these initial results confirm that the new year got off to a rough start. The second quarter will likely tell the tale of whether 2013 will be able to recover from this early hiccup. ■

Long-Form Media Indices are conducted quarterly by the staff of Response. It represents in-house, non-brokered media billings for all agencies and marketers known to have purchased long-form (30 minutes) media during first-quarter 2013.
Companies that couldn’t or wouldn’t reveal their media billings by press time were estimated based on previous responses to surveys on the quarter in question and based on projects they were known to be involved with.
For the survey, the top 10 markets include: New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Philadelphia; Dallas-Ft. Worth; San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose; Boston; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; and Houston.
Markets 11-20 are: Detroit; Seattle-Tacoma; Phoenix; Tampa-St. Petersburg; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Miami-Fort Lauderdale; Denver; Cleveland; Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne; and Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto.

Markets 21-30 are: St. Louis; Portland, Ore.; Pittsburgh; Raleigh-Durham; Charlotte; Indianapolis; Baltimore; San Diego; Nashville; and Hartford-New Haven.


About the Author: Thomas Haire

Thomas Haire

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