After reading our report yesterday, which you can still find on www.RBR.com, Bear Stearns analyst Victor Miller told clients that national spot sales for radio are not really tanking.
“Perception: RBR Suggests 1Q National Advertising ‘Tanking’-Down 17%. This AM, RBR, an influential radio trade, suggested that 1/7/08 national ad pacings for one major radio rep firm were ‘tanking’; down 17.2% for the top 100 markets,” Miller wrote. But he said the reality is better: “We believe that national ad business has improved the last 3 weeks, and that on an ‘apples to apples’ basis, is down closer to high-single-digit now [national is 22% of radio business].”
Miller added that AT&T was placing its business as national last year, but is now local, and that the writers strike has wiped out February sweeps business from television.
“1/7 pacings are awfully early given 1Q represents only 22% of a year’s revenue (no rush for advertisers to place ads). Also, the RBR numbers are adjusted downward by 6% to reflect 1Q 2008’s 13 weeks [broadcast calendar] versus 12 weeks in 2007’s 1Q. But while the full 6% adjustment is made, there is actually very little business written in week 13 for 1Q 2008; so the decline is exaggerated right now,” Miller said.
RBR observation: We hope he’s right. While a high-single-digit decline in national business is better than a double-digit one, it is still hardly anything to cheer about. Miller concluded by telling clients not to expect much for the first half of 2008, but he thinks increased political and online spending will offset a decline in core advertising dollars, resulting in a flat year.