CAB To Release Complete Findings Of Largest-Ever Commercial Recall Study

  • by August 28, 2000
By Anya Khait

Detailed findings of the largest unaided recall study in television history will be officially released to advertising executives later this week when the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau mails a newly-published report of the study and also posts complete respondent data on its website.

Conducted by Nielsen Media Research for CAB, the national study provides the strongest statistical proof to date that cable is equal to the broadcast networks in primetime commercial effectiveness. More than 17,200 adults 18+ were surveyed by phone at home during primetime earlier this year.

The study found that there is essentially no statistical difference between cable and broadcast network television on the basis of viewers' verified recall of commercials as well as their attentiveness to primetime programming. The study also shows that a strong direct correlation exists between attentiveness levels and commercial recall.

The percentage of cable viewers who stayed tuned during a commercial break (claimed commercial exposure) is about the same as broadcast network television, refuting the assumption by some that, in a multi-channel environment, the ad-supported cable audience is more likely to channel surf to avoid commercials.



Unaided recall is significantly impacted by commercial pod length and pod position. In general, shorter pod lengths and the first pod position command higher than average recall levels. The unaided recall level of 15-second TV commercials is one-half that of 30s. Similarly, viewer recall of TV network on-air promos is one-half that of advertiser-placed product/service commercials.

"The data collected from this 17,000-person sample will be highly useful to media decision-makers in weighing the relative values of cable versus broadcast," said CAB President & CEO Joe Ostrow. "With the primary findings confirming that recall parity exists between these two sources of viewing, we believe that cable should, at a minimum, receive the same valuation per rating point as does broadcast TV."

- Anya Khait is a MediaPost Staff Reporter. She can be reached at

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