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TV Advertising Trends: 2019 Spending Predictions

January 3rd, 2019   ||    by Todd Wasserman

With no Olympics, World Cup, or elections, 2019 is unlikely to be a record year for TV advertising. Long-term TV advertising trends like cord cutting and low ratings mean the consensus is that spending will be lower next year. However, predictions vary and there are some bright spots for TV.

Downward Trend Consensus

While estimates vary, most of the top researchers see a downward trend for TV advertising in 2019.

According to Broadcasting & Cable, Magna predicts a 3.5 percent decrease in spending next year. The researcher’s predictions for local TV are more dramatic: After a year replete with a Winter Olympics and midterm elections, Magna predicts that local TV spending will drop 14.7 percent.

MoffettNathanson Research offers a more pessimistic estimate: a 4.3 percent drop in spending in 2019, reported MediaPost. The researcher predicts local TV spending will sink 7.2 percent while the four broadcast networks will fall 3.5 percent. MoffettNathanson explained that the continued growth of digital is coming at the expense of traditional media like TV.

eMarketer, meanwhile, predicts just a 1 percent drop in ad revenues for next year.

Taken together, the three estimates average a -2.9 percent decline for TV in 2019.

Bright Spots for TV

While most media prognosticators think that TV ad revenues will fall in 2019, one outlier is GroupM, which expects a 0.5 percent rise in TV ad spending in 2019, according to Broadcasting & Cable. GroupM’s rationale is that advertisers are spending more on TV as they grow suspicious of digital ad spending and its lack of verification.

There are other bright spots as well. Magna’s 3.5 percent forecast is lower than the 3.9 percent decline it had originally predicted at the end of 2017 (Magna said the economy was in better shape in mid-2018 than it had assumed would be the case). The company also sees growth in the advanced TV realm. Magna predicts over-the-top IP-delivered campaigns will grow at a 40 percent rate, noted Advanced Television.

Additionally, though eMarketer predicts a drop in 2019, it foresees that spending will rise 0.5 percent in 2020 because of the presidential election and the Summer Olympics.

Why All These Estimates Might Be Off

Each of these predictions for TV advertising trends are based on several underlying assumptions. One is that the economy will continue to be strong next year. Changes in the economy could alter assessments for the better, as it did Magna’s original prediction, or for the worse.

The other unknown factor is whether advertisers will continue to be more circumspect about digital media. An FBI probe into digital media fraud, as AdAge reported, could prompt more advertisers to pull their money out of digital and presumably put more back into traditional media like TV.

While there are other factors that may change those estimates as well, the conventional prognosis is that 2019 will be a down year for TV. TV stations that depend on advertising for their livelihood would do well to prepare for the worst but hope for the best—after all, no one can truly predict the future.


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