While overall ad spending grew 5% in January, TV ad revenue was down 1% in January year-over-year.
The Standard Media Index (SMI) showed that spending on the broadcast networks was down 6%, mainly due to the fact that CBS' Grammy Awards telecast was moved from January to February this year. TV spending was also hurt by lower ratings and reduced spending by automotive and consumer packaged goods advertisers.
There were some bright spots. Cable advertising spending was up 5%, with sports leading the way. ESPN grew ad revenue 29%, mostly because of the debut of the US' college football playoffs. And Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo registered double-digit increases.
Digital spending meanwhile rose 30% in January, and now has a 27% share of national ad spending.
"The overall ad market opened strongly in 2015, thanks largely to the continued robust performance of the digital sector," said James Fennessy, SMI's chief commercial officer. "A weak upfront, soft ratings and reduced spend from a few major advertiser categories continues to impact the TV market, although the scatter market is rapidly growing both in volume and price as the economy continues to strengthen. We are confident this will deliver solid results for the major broadcast and cable groups to close out the quarter."