Advertising spending on linear television declined 7% in the fourth quarter compared to the previous year, according to ad intelligence firm Guideline.

Guideline, which acquired Standard Media Index in 2022, said the fall was the largest since it began tracking US ad spending in 2017.

Since Q4 2017, ad expenditure on linear TV has decreased at an average compounded rate of 3.4%.

With writers and performers’ strikes hampering scripted programming creation, expenditure on entertainment premieres fell 27%, according to Guideline.

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Overall spending on entertainment programming fell 16% in the quarter, as viewing habits shifted to streaming.

Linear TV’s bright light was live sports, which increased by 3.4% in the quarter. National Football League programming led the way, with 22% greater ad expenditure than a year ago.

“Q4 2023 was a microcosm of the US national linear TV environment. According to Nicole McCurnin, insights director at Guideline, live sports ad income and market share both peaked, owing to the NFL, while entertainment programming dipped to a trough amid a tough climate of labor strikes and streaming services.

Spending on news programming fell 7% in the quarter, although Guideline expects spending to increase in 2024 due to the presidential election.

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Guideline discovered that medicines were the only main product category that increased spending in Q4, with a 3.5% increase in spending.

Guideline ad spending data is derived from invoices stored in the computer systems of all major media-buying holding corporations and the majority of big independent purchasers.