Total broadcast TV ad revenue was down 6.3% in the fourth quarter vs. Q4 2007, according to Television Bureau of Advertising analysis of estimates from TNS Media, and down .4% for all of 2008 compared to the year before, a year without an election or Olympics.
Network TV was down the most for the quarter at 9.3%, and down .1% for the year. Syndicated TV was flat for the quarter but up 6.5% for the year, while local broadcast TV was down 3.4% for the quarter and down 2.4% for the year.
On the local TV side, automotive, the top ad category for local TV, was down 29.3% for the quarter, and local car dealers were down even more (32.8%), while political advertising was up 675% over the off-year 2007.
The automotive sector is so bad that one broadcast group, Allbritton, tried a creative way to boost sales by offering its employees $2,000 if they would spend it on a new car at a local dealer ($1,000 for a used car, same deal).
Local TV's top advertiser was Honda, which was actually up 9% over the year before. Number two was the Obama For President Committee, up a whopping $2,146.2% from Q4 2007, when he was still a longshot behind presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.