Long-Form Billings’ Misery Reaches 18 Months

Media Billings

Third-quarter 2017 long-form DRTV media billings totaled $169,302,700 — the lowest 3Q figure in Response’s own research of the 28:30 space since 1996. The decrease of more than $22.8 million (11.9 percent) compared to third-quarter 2016 represents long-form’s sixth consecutive quarterly loss — even though the total number of time slots purchased continues to rise thanks to falling pricing in the cable sector.

In fact, cable pricing dipped so much (by 26.5 percent compared to 3Q 2016), that the category regained more than two points of market share in the time slot rankings. Overall, total time slots purchased rose 6.8 percent, while the overall average cost of a half-hour block dropped by more than $50. The percentage of dollars spent in the top 30 DMAs remained stable near 38 percent of the total pie.

Dips in Top Categories Doom Market

Like second-quarter 2017, eight of the 15 measured categories reported gains in the third quarter — but significant decreases in three of the four largest verticals more than overpowered the minor gains in most winning categories. The “Other” category rose 4.7 percent to more than $23.5 million — the only space earning more than $20 million in spending to gain ground. The “Automotive” category nearly doubled its 3Q 2016 results, adding more than $3.1 million. Each of the other six categories to report gains netted less than $1 million in increases.

“Cosmetics, Hair, and Personal Care,” the long-form sector’s behemoth, dropped nearly $13 million (20.9 percent) in 3Q 2017. Meanwhile, the “Housewares and Appliances” dipped $8.7 million (27.2 percent), and “Health and Fitness” saw a $6.2 million decrease (15.2 percent).

Pricing Craters, Total Spots Keep Rising

Just like the first two quarters of the year, only one of the four media outlets gained spending in 3Q 2017 — this time, it was the U.S. Hispanic space, which posted a 7.4-percent increase (and a 0.7-point increase in market share). National cable lost $12.4 million (14 percent) but just 1.1 point of share thanks to aforementioned increased spot purchasing. Broadcast slipped by $6.9 million, but gained 1.8 points of share. The quarter’s most troubled outlet was satellite, which stumbled to a $4.1 million loss (28.3 percent) compared to 3Q 2016.

As noted, the total number of time slots purchased continued to increase — this quarter by nearly 45,000 overall. That increase was likely prompted by pricing that cratered in third-quarter 2017 — diving more than 17.5 percent to land at $238.44. Cable (up 17.1 percent) and broadcast (up 11.4 percent) combined to swipe nearly five points of market share from satellite and U.S. Hispanic.

Spending in the top 30 markets dipped $9.6 million (13 percent), mostly mirroring the rest of the quarter’s results. Spending in the top 10 markets faded by more than $5.1 million; spending in markets 11-20 dropped $3.6 million; and spending in markets 21-30 was nearly $900,000 lower. Overall, the top 30 markets earned 37.8 percent of each long-form dollar, down a half-point from 3Q 2016.