Fourth-quarter 2016 long-form DRTV media billings slipped by nearly $17.8 million compared to the same quarter a year ago, landing at $203,054,100. The 8-percent decrease marked a third consecutive quarter of mild losses for the long-form space, leading to a total-year decrease for the ninth time in the past 10 years of Response’s own research of the sector.
However, following upon 2015’s 1.8-percent loss, 2016’s overall dip of 4.1 percent to $843,925,400 marks a relative stabilization in the space after far more sizeable losses in 2013-14. As noted in prior 2016 quarterly reports, the culprit for spending decreases this year remains lower pricing for a 28:30 block of time across the media landscape, especially in national cable.
Only three of the 15 measured categories reported gains in 4Q 2016, with the “Other” category wrapping up a huge year by adding nearly $21.4 million to its spend when compared to fourth-quarter 2015 — almost a 14-fold increase. “Financial and Business Opportunities” followed up a strong third-quarter performance by jumping $3.2 million (122 percent) year-over-year in 4Q 2016.
Sizeable losers were easy to find in fourth quarter, however. “Personal Development, Self-Help, and Education” was the quarter’s biggest loser — both from a dollar ($9.8 million) and percentage (92.3 percent) perspective. “Cosmetics, Hair, and Personal Care” dropped more than $7.3 million, while “Housewares and Appliances” lost almost $6.4 million and “Health and Fitness” atrophied by $5.9 million.
Playing the (Time) Slots
Only the broadcast sector gained ground in fourth-quarter 2016, adding nearly $3.3 million in spending (3.9 percent) to gain five points in market share. Taking the brunt of that share hit was the national cable space, which dropped more than $16.9 million (15.1 percent) of its spend in the fourth quarter from a year ago and lost 3.9 points of share in the process. Spending in the satellite ($2.5 million) and U.S. Hispanic ($1.7 million) outlets also fell.
Once again, the total number of time slots purchased rose — this time by 11.2 percent to 607,692. Cable’s slashed pricing allowed the outlet to add more than 17,000 avails, while the broadcast outlet expanded its market share edge by tacking on nearly 43,000 time slots compared to 4Q 2015. Only the U.S. Hispanic space lost time slots, dipping 37 percent to just more than 21,000. Overall, the average cost of a 30-minute block dropped 17.3 percent — the decrease was an even stiffer 25.6 percent in the cable marketplace.
Advertisers did expand spending across the top-30 DMAs in fourth-quarter 2016. Top-30 spending rose by $15.8 million (22.1 percent) overall, with the top 10 responsible for nearly $9.9 million of that increase. Nearly 43 cents of every long-form media dollar spent in 4Q 2016 went to a top-30 market.