Basic Cable Ads Poised to Slow in 2H ‘08, ‘09

SNL Kagan Research: Basic-cable-network revenue growth will decelerate later this year, in 2009.

While 2008 is a banner year for basic-cable networks despite the weak economy, their revenue growth will decelerate later this year and in 2009, according to an SNL Kagan Research report unveiled late Tuesday.

The Monterey, Calif.-based media-finance researcher forecast that basic-cable networks will post healthy 10.4% ad revenue growth in 2008, but the increase will slip to a 4.7% gain in 2009 as the slowing economy becomes a drag on ad spending. Aggregate ad sales at channels such as CNN, Discovery Channel and TNT will then recover to 11.1% growth in 2010.

In 2007, SNL Kagan estimated that ad revenue advanced 10.5% to $19 billion and carriage fees spiked 15% to more than $20 million.

“Companies that publicly report ad sales for their cable nets showed positive second-quarter results spanning a wide range from +1% to +28%,” SNL Kagan senior analyst Derek Baine said in a statement. “However, we expect to start seeing more negative numbers in the second half of 2008.”

Over the next decade, total basic-cable-network revenue -- mostly advertising and fees collected from multichannel platforms -- is expected to grow 8.9% annually, SNL Kagan said. Total ad revenue is forecast to rise at an 8.1% annual rate, which is a slight deceleration from 11.6% over the prior decade.

Carriage fees are expected to rise 9.5% over the next 10 years, though that decelerates from 16.1% over the prior decade.

SNL Kagan sees total basic-cable-network cash flow growing to 10.8% per year over the next decade, reaching almost $40 billion by 2017.