"There's yet to be a palpable heartbeat for fourth-quarter scatter," notes Bruce Lefkowitz, EVP/sales, FX, putting a poetic spin on a slow buying scene. "Everyone's hoping strong third-quarter earnings will cause money to be released closer to air dates, but that's yet to happen."
Says Court TV EVP of Ad Sales Charlie Collier, "We've seen some activity this week, but it's been slow." He sees fourth-quarter increases as flat to low single digits.
"Buys are slow because there's just less scatter money," explains one major package-goods client. "People who were 80% sure they'd have it, put it into the upfront [to avoid playing in the scatter market].
"We have no money for scatter," this source adds. "In fact, we're cutting back for first quarter."
Other cable sources say money is there. "We're pacing just fine," notes a Comedy Central spokesman.
Lefkowitz refutes reported advertiser bailout from FX hit Nip/Tuck. "We've been able to sell out the finale at the highest CPMs we've experienced."
Lifetime Movie Network, benefiting from its new 40 million-household reach, cites new deals with Miramax, Nestlé and pharmaceutical company Merz. "We are now a very, very powerful force among women, and advertisers know that," says SVP of Advertising John Matluck.
July and August were strong months for spot cable, says Greg Schaefer, COO/National Cable Communications, "but September is softer than anticipated. This soft scatter market looks to continue into the fourth quarter and is tempering our outlook. [But] '03 is projected to end with healthy double-digits increases over '02."