As networks and buyers prepared to get down to business on the upfront next week, Universal McCann's Robert Coen, one of Madison Avenue's most well-regarded ad forecasters, drastically cut his projections for 2001 on Thursday.
"I have to confess it's a lot worse than I thought it would ever be," Coen said of this year's ad market. "The economy has weakened to such a degree that it is unrealistic to think advertising will outpace it" as it has in recent years, he said.
Last December, when Coen made his initial projection, he believed the four major networks would post a 1% gain for the year. Now, six months later, he predicts a 2.5% decline in ad spending on the big four, to $15.5 billion.
For National spot TV, he now sees a 6% drop this year to $11.5 billion and not the 1% fall-off he forecasted in December. Cable will be up 8% to $11.8 billion instead of the 12.5% initially predicted. And syndication may climb 3% to $3.2 billion, but not the 6% originally forecasted. - Steve McClellan