Cable networks have scatter avails. The question is whether their supply matches buyers' willingness to spend.
"Nobody's in a position to raise rates," says Ray Warren, managing director, OMD, citing the upfront's continuing budget-busting affect. "I see fourth-quarter scatter gains for cable as flat to low single digits."
Ray Dundas, SVP/group director, national broadcast, Initiative, says, "Last year, fourth-quarter premiums actually were premium [priced] so advertisers moved scatter dollars [early]." His clients buying fourth-quarter scatter this year "bought less … mainly a lot of seasonal stuff, retail, movie studios and DVDs, and not much more."
Still, certain cable networks are cashing in on the Nielsen "where-have-all-the-men-demos-gone" controversy.
"Spike TV is getting a nice little ride on that one," Warren says.
Says Steve Sternberg, EVP/director of audience analysis, Magna Global USA, "Cable, in general, probably benefits somewhat, but it's hard to pinpoint how much."
The network category is busier tending to next year. Turner is actively shopping around TBS's June '04 Sex and the City
package—at a very high price. Says Dundas, "They are looking to break records, reportedly asking $50 million from a single advertiser."
A Turner spokesman says TBS is looking for a "major sponsor" willing to buy a 15-month commitment, as well as "three additional smaller advertisers."
NCC President Greg Schaefer expects spot cable to finish in the high teens for 2003. "Thanks to interconnection, the movie business [proved] one of our largest growth categories this year."