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Did US TV Ad Spending Peak in 2018?

By 2022, TV will drop below 25% of total US ad spending

November 13, 2019 (New York, NY) – US TV ad spending will drop almost 3% this year, and a 1.0% bump in 2020 from the presidential election and Summer Olympics will not stave off a long-term decline for ad spending on the biggest traditional channel.  According to eMarketer’s latest US ad forecast, TV ad spending peaked in 2018 at $72.40 billion.

This year, US TV ad spending will decline 2.9% to $70.30 billion.  That means its share of total ad spending will drop below 30% for the first time.   By 2022, it will drop below one-quarter of total US ad spending.

TV spending will get a slight bump of 1.0% next year, due to political advertising and the 2020 Olympics.  But the uptick will be short-lived, as TV spending will drop 1.0% every year thereafter.

“TV ad growth can be heavily impacted by world events, so it’s possible that spending could return TV to $72 billion again,” said eMarketer forecasting director Monica Peart.  “But it is unlikely that it will exceed that going forward, as ratings and viewership declines accelerate.”

According to eMarketer’s TV viewer projections released in July, the number of US cord-cutter households will climb more than 19% this year to 21.9 million, reducing the number of pay TV households to 86.5 million.


Also affecting TV ad spending is viewing time, which will drop 3.0% to 3 hours, 40 minutes on average among US TV viewers in 2019.  All age groups are showing declines in time spent watching TV, but the largest drops are occurring among viewers ages 17 and younger.



eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.


About eMarketer
Founded in 1996, eMarketer is the first place to look for research about marketing in a digital world.  eMarketer enables thousands of companies worldwide to understand marketing trends, consumer behavior and get the data needed to succeed in the competitive and fast-changing digital economy.  eMarketer’s flagship product, eMarketer PRO, is home to all of eMarketer’s research, including forecasts, analyst reports, aggregated data from 3,000+ sources, interviews with industry leaders, articles, charts and comparative market data. eMarketer’s free daily newsletters span the US, EMEA and APAC and are read by more than 200,000 readers globally.  In 2016 eMarketer, Inc. was acquired by European media giant Axel Springer S.E.

Posted on November 13, 2019.