Cable Still Going Strong

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The spot and network cable buying markets remain extremely strong heading into the second quarter.

Andrew Ward, EVP/director of sales, National Cable Communications (NCC), reports January cable spot sales up 32 % over 2002. "We're very bullish. Our expectation is to sell 18% more than last year, when we billed over $500 million."

NCC's recent move to become the sole rep for national spot cable buys in the New York market (providing one-stop shopping for cable ad buyers) is receiving "very positive" agency reaction, says Ward. So is its e-business upgrade that offers avails and proposals online. Ward says early agency adapters to NCC e-business software include LCI, Initiative, Carat and MediaVest.

"Network cable is very solid with single-digit pluses," notes Joe Ostrow, president/CEO, Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau.

"Scatter has been especially strong because it was a bigger percentage of agency budgets this year. Most who waited are paying a premium."

Tom Wolzien, senior media analyst for Sanford Bernstein, concurs.

"Anything you want is pretty sold out. That's what I'm being told, but I don't know if it's true." He wonders whether broad-based cable nets are selling out as well as the niches.

"Yes," says Jeff Lucas, president of Universal Television Networks, who notes that USA is 95% sold out of upcoming series Nashville Star, debuting March 8. "We've already sold 18 out of the 20 units per show," he says, "with General Motors buying four units per show and McDonald's three."

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