Cable Numbers Climb, But Media Dollars Don't Follow

tvwatchersThe continued story of higher cable viewing has not translated into share of prime-time dollars, according to Turner Broadcasting research.

For the 2008-2009 season, Turner says a big disparity still exists between ad-supported cable's viewing share and cable's overall media dollars and the broadcast networks' viewing and ad revenue.

While ad-supported cable has a 60% share in total viewers in prime time, it only gets 29% of TV's prime-time advertising dollars. The six broadcast networks pull in 40% of the prime-time viewers, and get 71% of the ad dollars.

So far this season, ad-supported cable has grown 5% in the number of hours per week to 16.7 hours, versus 15.9 against the key 18-49 viewers. At the same time, the four broadcast networks dropped 5% to 7.5 hours per week.

But cable hasn't been the only area to climb. When looking at Spanish-language TV, PBS, pay cable and DVR playback (not included from live-plus-seven-day data), viewing rose 4% to 8.8 hours.

Similar trends, for cable, broadcast and other TV categories, occurred among total viewers. The big issue, however, continues to be the erosion of broadcast viewers. Turner expects it to decline by about 8% to 10% next season, which is in line with other media research projections.

Turner says this breakdown to 6% to 7% is attributed to natural attrition; 1% to 2% from loss of viewers due to digital transition; and another 1% to 1.5% from NBC airing "Jay Leno" at 10 p.m. instead of scripted or non-scripted individual programs.

Turner notes that during the last three years, broadcast networks have lost 17% in adult 18-49 viewers, while cable has climbed 18%.

The biggest new show on cable this season has been ABC Family's "Secret Life of the American Teenager," which has been averaging 4.0 million viewers. Second place goes to TNT's "Leverage" at 3.9 million. Next is TBS' "Meet the Browns" at 3.4 million. VH1's "For the Love of Ray J" has hit 2.8 million. Fourth place belongs to "Sons of Anarchy" at 2.6 million. After this is TNT's "Raising the Bar" at 2.6 million.

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