News

Blackout a Blip for Cable Ad Sales

8/22/2003 6:38 AM Eastern

Several major cable programmers claimed that they didn’t take hits on the
ad-sales side due to the blackout.

And the power outage didn’t pull the plug on cable’s overall ratings
growth.

"At the end of the day, it’s really a thimble of water in the ocean," said
Lou LaTorre, president of advertising sales for Fox Cable Networks Group. "It’s
not like someone is going to spend $10 million over the course of a year and
they’re going to say, ‘You owe me 36 viewers because of that blackout week.':

Officials at Turner Broadcasting System Inc. and ABC Cable Networks Group
also said they wouldn’t have to give sponsors make-goods as a result of the Aug.
14 blackout, which cut the power in major markets such as New York, Detroit and
Cleveland.

National cable advertisers buy ad time in such quantity, and over such long
continuums of time, that the blackout had minimal impact, according to
LaTorre.

"For cable networks, I can’t even imagine it’s going to register," he
said.

Cable still drew its second-largest primetime share ever -- 56.3 -- during
the week of Aug. 11-17, according to a Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau
analysis of Nielsen Media Research data. That was up from 53.4 the year-ago
period.

Cable’s delivery was 32.9 million households, up from 31.0 a year ago, while
its ratings were a 30.9 versus 29.4 a year ago.

The seven broadcast networks were down for that week in all categories.
Broadcast’s share was 35.0 versus 37.9 the same period a year ago, the CAB said.
Broadcast’s delivery dipped to 20.4 million homes from 22 million a year ago,
while ratings dropped slightly to 19.1 from a 20.9 a year ago.

There was an information blackout as to how the outage affected local cable
ad sales. Officials at two big MSOs in New York -- Time Warner Cable and
Cablevision Systems Corp. -- couldn’t be reached for comment.

Comcast Corp. is the dominant operator in Detroit, which has a major
interconnect, and it has a large system in northern New Jersey. "We’re still
gathering information and trying to assess the impact," a spokeswoman for
Comcast Ad Sales said.

September