"We're obviously concerned about the economy the way you would expect us to be, but so far the advertising market continues to be strong," NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke told analysts on a conference call last week.
Help is not far away. Next year, advertising experts expect a boost in spending because of the Olympics and the U.S. congressional and presidential races.
The 2012 Summer Olympics in London will largely benefit NBCUniversal, which paid $1.18 billion for the TV rights. The election will heavily favor Disney, News Corp., CBS and other owners of local TV stations, although News Corp.'s right-leaning Fox News Channel could score a double whammy from the Republican presidential primaries.
Overall U.S. ad spending, projected to be $148 billion this year, has not yet returned to the pre-recession level of $156 billion in 2007, according to GroupM. Even the predicted 4.2 percent growth to $154 billion in 2012 won't match that high-water mark.
Reaching that peak could remain some years away. If the U.S. economy stumbles, next year's forecast will need to be trimmed, said GroupM Chief Investment Officer Rino Scanzoni.
"When we put out our revised estimate in December, I wouldn't be surprised if we have to make some adjustments," Scanzoni said. "Advertising spending pretty much parallels nominal (gross domestic product) growth. We have GDP that's relatively anemic. If we don't see a pickup, it will start impacting ad spending for 2012."
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