Olympics, Election Boost TV Ad Spending Through September

Bump in ad sales came in advance of economic downturn.

TV ad spending for the first nine months of the year was up 2.1%, thanks to Olympic and political spending in the third quarter. That is compared to a 1.7% drop in overall ad spending for the first nine months and a 2% drop in the third quarter, according to new numbers from TNS Media Intelligence.

Syndication led in percent gains, up 9% for the first nine months, followed by cable TV, up 3.7%, and network TV, up 3%. Spot TV was down 2.6% despite political spending in the third quarter.

TNS says syndication benefited from more hours of programming to sell and cable from "limited exposure" to the writers strike. Network, in this case NBC, got a big boost from the Olympics.

Local TV was hit hard by the cuts in automotive, retail and telecom spending.

Not surprisingly, TNS predicts further overall weakening of the ad market in the fourt quarter, saying "Media ad spending, which began tiptoeing into negative territory in early 2007, has crossed an inflection point in the past six month as the economic downturn has become more widespread."