Wide Swings in Cable Scatter


The cable scatter marketplace is "a mixed bag," say agency buyers. Ray Dundas, senior VP/group director, national broadcast, Initiative, sees cable as "flat to +5%" overall.

But those numbers don't reflect the wide swings in rate hikes achieved by individual networks, he says. Some top-tier cable networks received 15%-20% gains vs. upfront pricing, he says. Others note more supply and lower prices in cable news.

"Financial advertisers are back big time," says Bloomberg TV Director of Media David Wachtel, citing the return of American Express and Prudential and the arrival of Schwab and Lending Tree. Reporting 18% increases for 2004 so far, he adds, "B2B ads are back, along with a huge increase in high-end automotive." And entertainment and DVD spending is strong.

Media Kitchen Associate Director Bruce Williams says the bigger cable networks are pretty much sold out for 2Q scatter, while second- and third-tier networks still have time to sell. He sees the 3Q market replicating the second: "up single digits to +5%, maybe to 10%, with entertainment, fast food, and soda—all the youth products—strong."

Locally, business is picking up, too, says Larry Fischer, president, Time Warner Corporate Ad Sales, "but we're still waiting for national political dollars to open the floodgates." He is critical of presidential campaigns' bypassing local cable completely. "It's a miscalculation that they can buy 12 spots on Fox, and that's enough," he says.

But Joe Ayson, national sales manager for Cox Media in Las Vegas, turned that negative into a positive by touting his "politically free" networks.