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Stabilization, No Rebound, for 1Q Long-Form DRTV Billings

1 Jul, 2015 By: Thomas Haire Response

Though a 7.3-percent decline betters recent first-quarter results, long-form DRTV suffers through its 10th consecutive quarterly decrease

Long-form DRTV media billings broke slowly from the gate in 2015, as first-quarter results show a decrease of $17.6 million (7.3 percent) compared to 1Q 2014. Though the percentage decrease was more stable compared to first-quarter struggles the past two years, total spending of $222,710,300 represents the 10th consecutive quarterly drop measured by Response (the last positive quarter: 3Q 2012). Total spending in 1Q 2015 also was the lowest in any first quarter since 2001.

In our previous long-form DRTV billings research report (Response, April), we noted that two categories — beauty and fitness, key long-form players that struggled throughout 2014 — would be worth watching in 2015. Those categories showed mixed results, with beauty continuing to falter while fitness enjoyed a solid bump. Spending was down in every form of distribution, except U.S. Hispanic — as the Spanish-speaking market continues to ascend in importance.

Crafts, Fitness Rise; Housewares, Cosmetics Fade

Seven of the 15 measured categories reported gains in 1Q 2015 — the same as one year ago. “Crafts, Collectibles and Hobbies” enjoyed a surprising $6.3 million (291-percent) jump, while the aforementioned “Health and Fitness” space, the quarter’s top spender, rose $5.5 million (8.2 percent).

Meanwhile, the “Cosmetics, Hair and Personal Care” and “Housewares and Appliances” categories — which rank Nos. 2 and 3 in total spending — were responsible for the bulk of the quarter’s overall losses. “Housewares” dropped $12.4 million (26.8 percent), while “Cosmetics” failed to cover up an $8.8 million slide (12.8 percent). The “Diet, Weight Loss, Nutrition and Food” category also went hungry, losing $5.5 million (39.3 percent) compared to 1Q 2014 results.

Hispanic Expansion Continues

Three of four media outlets posted losses compared to first-quarter 2014, with only U.S. Hispanic (up $3.1 million, or 49.7 percent) enjoying a gain. The biggest loser was the broadcast outlet, which dropped $17.1 million (16.1 percent) from the same timeframe one year ago. That meant some market-share shuffling, with cable (up 2.2 points), satellite (up 0.4 points) and U.S. Hispanic (up 1.6 points) combining to fill a 4.2-point loss by broadcast.

Spending in the top 30 markets dipped $9.8 million (11.1 percent), with markets 21-30 responsible for the bulk of the demise — losing $7.4 million (38.2 percent) compared to 1Q 2014.

The total number of time slots purchased fell by close to 28,000 (5.2 percent) in first-quarter 2015, again with broadcast struggling to maintain its stranglehold. The broadcast outlet lost just less than 40,000 spots compared to first-quarter 2014, meaning that the net gain of almost 12,000 slots by the other three outlets merely shifted market share points across a smaller base. The average cost of a half-hour block slipped slightly — $10.08, or 2.3 percent — from 1Q 2014, as more spending creeped into the lower-cost satellite and U.S. Hispanic spaces.

Though first-quarter 2015 cannot be couched as anything but another notch in a lengthening losing streak, the expansion of the “Health and Fitness” category, as well as the stabilizing of the cable marketplace may be signs that a 2015 comeback is not out of the cards. ■

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 fist-quarter 2015.

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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