Cable Leads Broadcast Again, Smaller Cable Nets Make Big Strides
This represents a 9 share point cable advantage over broadcast for the first week of the season (September 19-25)--the largest gap between cable and broadcast for a broadcast premiere week, said the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau. Data from the CAB says more than 50 ad-supported cable networks collectively rose an average 3.0 million homes, climbed 2.6 ratings points, and rose 2.3 share points versus the same period a year ago.
"We continue to see what has happened last year," said Ira Sussman, vp of research for the CAB. "Viewers are coming to view cable networks as branded or destination portals."
But what isn't mentioned is where the growth has come from. Media agency critics say much of cable's viewership growth comes from smaller networks--not the big-name cable networks such as MTV, USA, ESPN, and TNT. And those smaller networks, say media agency executives, are eating into the more established networks' viewership.
CAB's Sussman says that while the viewership gains haven't been broken down by network, many advertisers--including General Motors--are regularly buying cable 35 networks deep, showing that the strength of cable is not just with the top networks. Other top ten advertisers are doing the same, he says.
All this gain, says Sussman, comes despite a heavy marketing attack from the broadcast networks. "Even considering the networks did some of their largest promotional efforts this year--for some 70 shows--cable continues to hold its own," said Sussman. Through 70 network premieres, CAB says the seven-broadcast network has posted a 3.4 rating for the adults 18-49 demographic. Through the same period last year, with 54 show premieres, broadcast networks were a bit better off, at a 3.6 rating. That's a 6 percent decline from a year ago.
The CAB said that NBC and CBS were down significantly from last year. NBC dropped to a 3.4 from a 4.3; CBS was down to a 3.7, from a 4.5. The only network to experience a gain was ABC, which averaged a 6.0--up from a 3.6 a year ago.