Report: US TV and OOH Ad Spend Have Peaked

May 28, 2021

eMarketer US TV Ad Spend 2014 2024 May2021Although TV ad spend was expected to see modest year-over-year (y-o-y) growth of 2% last year, thanks to the Summer Olympics and presidential elections, that growth did not occur after the pandemic caused the cancellation of the global sports event as well as a general pullback in traditional media advertising dollars. Instead, TV spending declined by 12.5% over 2019, per data from eMarketer that predicts that TV ad spend will never again reach the high seen in 2018.

Last year, TV ad spending in the US totaled $61.8 billion, a 12.5% decrease from the $70.6 billion seen in 2019. It was also more than $10 billion less than the $72.4 billion spending in 2018 that eMarketer now says represented TV’s peak. That year featured a major midterm election and the Winter Olympics, and, while 2020 was supposed to look similar with the general election and Summer Olympics, the pandemic derailed those plans and forced the Olympics to be rescheduled to Summer 2021, causing major upsets for original spending forecasts.

TV ad spend is expected to see some recovery in the next couple of years, with eMarketer estimating that spending will reach $65.9 billion this year, up 6.7% y-o-y, with another y-o-y increase of 3% in 2022 bringing spending to an estimated $67.9 billion. However, with more households planning to cut the cord and viewers spending more time streaming instead of watching linear TV, the medium- and longer-term future for TV advertising does not look as bright, with spending estimated to dip by 1% y-o-y in both 2023 ($67.2 billion) and 2024 ($66.5 billion).

Out-of-Home Advertising

Another advertising medium heavily impacted by the pandemic was out-of-home (OOH). Coming off a very promising year in 2019 when OOH ad spend in the US totaled $8.7 billion, the pandemic forced OOH advertisers to pull back their investment in the normally influential advertising format. Spending plummeted by 29.7% y-o-y, per eMarketer’s estimates, down to $6.1 billion.

Like, TV ad spend, OOH ad spend is expected to see some recovery. eMarketer forecasts 14.5% y-o-y growth this year, with spending to reach nearly $7 billion. Other data from GroupM is even more optimistic, with spending on OOH ads this year expected to grow by 22.8% over 2020.

While spending on traditional media stagnates or continues to fall, digital advertising keeps ticking. In fact, advertisers upped their investment in digital advertising in 2020, with eMarketer reporting y-o-y growth of 14.9%. The firm also forecasts growth of 25.5% this year. This growth is helped out to some degree by the increase in consumers who are receptive to ad-supported streaming services as well as more advertisers looking to invest in newer digital advertising platforms such as podcasts.

About the Data: TV ad spending estimates “includes broadcast (network, spot and syndication) and cable TV, excludes digital.” OOH estimates “includes alternative, billboard, cinema, street furniture and transit.”

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