Viewer Perceptions Of Cable Sometimes Don't Matter

Cable executives know what their viewers think. That's how they make money  -- and in most cases, that's all that matters. 

In a recent study released by the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, viewers were found to believe that cable TV runs fewer commercials than broadcast TV. And, mind you, not by a little bit, but by a wide-margin. Some 33% viewers believe cable runs fewer spots, versus 12% who believe broadcast TV has fewer messages. Additionally, 17% of those surveyed believe the advertising on cable networks is "just right" for the programming, compared with 13% who believe that for broadcast.

Perception is everything. But there is virtually no argument among cable sales executives that their commercials loads are among the highest for all TV platforms. Study after study has shown this.



So, if I was a TV cable advertising salesperson, I'd do the right thing: start running more commercials, until cable viewers cry uncle, or until they realize four car commercials in a row is not a new "Speed Racer" TV series.  

My question is, why would the CAB release this information? Are they just teasing with media buying agency executives that already have put up a wall against cable because of its high commercial clutter? Unless there is some new ground-breaking research that shows something completely different, this is good old-fashioned spin.

Cable doesn't help itself, adding to the commercial clutter problem by taking all the "A" commercial positions for itself -- with program promos. Perhaps that's what viewers are mixed up about. Perhaps they believe those promos are program content.

The survey was part of a bigger survey showing TV overall is a still strong selling tool for brands  -- part of the CAB's new global viewpoint that what's good for TV is also good for cable.

This is a good way of thinking. Cable has always been TV --at least according to rumor. We, in the business, can get lost in the business minutiae. Years ago executives wondered whether we would ever see the Super Bowl on cable.

I tell them year after year that I see the Super Bowl on cable -- and it's not just me. Last year about 70% of all U.S. TV viewers saw the Super Bowl on cable -- just not emanating from a cable network through a cable system. 

Does viewers care about this? Do they care about too many commercials? Reality is not always fixed in perception. Now go make some business decisions.

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