Fourth-quarter 2017 long-form DRTV media billings dipped just 3.3 percent year-over-year, landing at $196,419,300. The $6.6 million loss marked the long-form market’s seventh consecutive down quarter, contributing to a total-year 2017 drop of nearly $67 million.
The annual total of $777,060,000 is a 7.9-percent decrease compared to full-year 2016 results. And though 2017 is the 10th year in the past 11 with an overall dip in long-form DRTV spending, the percentage decrease is the worst since a 9.5-percent drop in 2014. Lower pricing — particularly in cable — remains a key culprit in the declines. However, fourth-quarter results do show a stabilizing cable marketplace — perhaps a sign that prices have declined enough to urge broadened investment in what remains TV’s priciest media sector.
10 Up — But, Oh, Those Big 3
Another sign of hope: 10 of the 15 measured categories reported gains in the fourth quarter. However, those gains weren’t enough to overcome continuing multimillion decreases in three key categories. The “Other” category was again among the leaders, rising 20.7 percent to nearly $27.7 million. The top dollar gainer, though, was the “Home and Garden” category, which jumped by more than $5 million (73.6 percent), while both “Automotive” (up 149 percent, or $4.2 million) and “Financial and Business Opportunities” (up 50.1 percent, or nearly $3 million) also enjoyed healthy increases.
“Cosmetics, Hair, and Personal Care” and “Health and Fitness,” long-form’s two biggest categories, combined to lose nearly $12.3 million in total spending, while “Housewares and Appliances” lost one-third of its 4Q 2016 spend, dumping more than $15.2 million year-over-year.
Could Stabilizing Cable Lead a Resurgence?
Half of the four media outlets gained spending in 4Q 2017, as the U.S. Hispanic space enjoyed its second straight positive quarter (up 15.5 percent) while national cable appeared to awaken from a long slumber. Cable added $6.3 million in spend (up 6.7 percent) but gained nearly five points of market share, much of it coming, notably, at the expense of a broadcast outlet that slipped by nearly $10 million. The satellite sector continued to struggle, losing almost $4 million (30.1 percent) compared to 4Q 2016.
The total number of time slots purchased continued its recent climb, adding more than 96,000 spots, good for a 15.9-percent rise. Once again, led by the cable sector, pricing took another dive, losing 16.6 percent to land at $278.83 (a number that, positively, was up compared to 3Q 2017 results). Only satellite lost time slots (down 25.6 percent year-over-year), while cable (up 38.8 percent), broadcast (up 11.3 percent), and U.S. Hispanic (up 78.9 percent) all saw gains.
Spending in the top 30 markets dipped $685,900 (0.8 percent) but gained 1.1 points of market share, mainly thanks to success in markets 21-30 (up nearly $1.2 million or 9.4 percent). Spending in the top 10 markets rose $365,100 (0.7 percent), while spending in markets 11-20 dropped $2.2 million (8.6 percent). Overall, the top 30 markets earned 44 cents of each long-form dollar.