TV: Not a $70 Billion Ad Market Anymore

But Don't Blame Online Video for the Lost Dollars

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NEW YORK ( -- Research firm eMarketer has some sobering news for the TV networks: You're not booking $70 billion in ad revenue in 2009. Try about $66.9 billion, or about 4.2% less than the $69.8 billion of advertising sold on network and cable TV in the U.S. in 2008.

It's no surprise given the economic climate, declining viewing and splintering audiences. But it's a psychological come-down from the mythic $70 billion, that nice, round figure thrown around as TV's share of the biggest ad market in the world.

When will TV ad dollars hit $70 billion again? Not in 2010 (eMarketer wisely keeps the horizon short on this prediction). More important, where are the dollars going -- back in the pockets of marketers or online to cheaper, more-accountable media? Probably a little of both.

Not going to online video
One place they're not shifting -- at least on any comparable scale -- is online video. According to eMarketer, the online-video market will gain 45%, or a mere $263 million, to reach $850 million in 2009, which will make a big difference for internet players such as Hulu, Veoh and maybe even YouTube. But it's a small fraction of the $2.8 billion that TV lost in the couch cushions.

If marketers are looking for cheaper impressions, there's no sense in spending on online video at all. Because audiences are still small, and there are fewer spots available in web video, ad rates are still higher than TV, though many expect that to even out sometime in 2009. Until it does, web video is one less threat TV has to worry about.

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