CAB’s Cunningham Shares 'Notes'

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Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau president Sean Cunningham has been on
the job 81 days, mostly on a fact-finding mission.

On Oct. 23, he’s scheduled to present to the CAB board his vision for
taking cable sales to the next level.

But Tuesday, he shared some "notes" of the meetings he’s had
with advertising and agency luminaries with cable salespeople attending a
Cabletelevision Advertising Association of New York conference.

At the top of the list of barriers, or perceived barriers to cable sales, he
said, is the lack of industrywide standards for doing business. The industry
needs to create a "consistent code" for conducting sales transactions. Or at
least, Cunningham said, that’s what ad buyers and planners have told him
repeatedly in the last couple of months.

Many of those same executives told him, he added, that cable systems ought to
sell "more like a TV station to get a bigger share of the budget." But
Cunningham said he interpreted such remarks to mean that cable needs to be easier to
do business with.

Buyers also complained that there is a lack of ratings and research data to support
local and regional cable buys, Cunningham said. Again, whether true or not, that
is the perception.

But the good news, he added, is that with cable’s share of viewing surpassing
broadcast on a total-day basis, "there’s never been a better time to sell
cable."

Cable had the summer hits (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Nip/Tuck) and the
resulting water-cooler buzz, although Cunningham stressed that the perception of many
on the buy side is that broadcast is still where much of the buzz resides --
something for cable’s marketing machine to ponder, he suggested.

"I’m not anti-broadcast," he said. "I’m pro TV."

Ultimately, that’s the way viewers look at it, too -- they either like a TV
show or they don’t, whether its on cable, broadcast or satellite. And that’s
probably the best reason to get away from the "silo" mentality of cable versus
broadcast, he said.

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