TV ad spending fell a slight 0.1% in 2013, a year without a major election or Olympics to pump up media buying, according to Kantar Media.
Network TV was down 3.4% and spot was down 8.1%. Those declines offset gains in cable, which rose 7.3%, Spanish-language TV, up 2.9%, and national syndication, which increased 0.5%.
Kantar says cable's gain came partly by increasing the number of commercials network runs. In 2013, the ad load was up 1.3% and has ratcheted up 9% since the recession lifted in 2010.
Overall ad spending rose 0.9% to $140.2 billion, Kantar said.
"Advertising growth eased in 2013 without the stimuli of Olympic and political spending. However, the market still registered a gain for the fourth consecutive year," Jon Swallen, Chief Research Officer at Kantar Media North America, said in a statement. "Although the macro theme of ad dollars moving to digital media still generates much discussion, another significant but less recognized trend has taken hold. The ad market is currently being carried by the Top 1000 advertisers who, as a group, are steadily spending more while the long-tail of small-sized marketers is sharply cutting back."