Ad-Sales Bulls Running for Cable


New York -- The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, having
analyzed Competitive Media Reporting data for the opening half of 1999, projected that
network cable could finish the year with upward of $9 billion in ad sales.

Coming off a first-half pace that put network-cable ad
revenues at $4 billion-plus -- up 29 percent, or $898 million, from the corresponding 1998
period -- basic services could amass "between $8 billion and $9 billion, a new
record," CAB president Joseph Ostrow said last Wednesday.

In fact, that's a "conservative" projection,
Ostrow said in a phone interview last Thursday. The final tally "could be over $9
billion," he said, adding that the overall take (including local and spot cable)
could top $12 billion.

In its recently released "CAB 1999 Cable TV
Facts" book, the CAB cited initial 1999 projections from Paul Kagan Associates Inc.
that put network cable closer to $7.5 billion and total cable (including local and spot)
at $10.4 billion.

The basic networks' volume alone has soared 78 percent
in just three years, from nearly $2.3 billion in the first half of 1996, he noted.

Going back to 1996, the CAB analysis found that this
year's 29 percent first-half rise is well beyond the 17 percent to 18 percent growth
levels in the January-through-July periods of 1998 and 1997.

Ostrow reeled off various factors that are contributing to
cable programmers' robust sales year. A strong cable upfront will "contribute a
significant amount" to calendar years 1999 and 2000, he said, although he
wouldn't get into percentages.

Further, basic networks' overall advertising business
"just continues to grow steadily," as spending grows on categories ranging from
such standbys as automotive and telecommunications to newer ones like proprietary drugs
and "the dot.coms."

The ongoing gains by basic networks in Nielsen Media
Research ratings also play a big role, combined with broadcast-television networks'
ongoing audience erosion.

Speaking of ratings, the CAB said last week that the
basic-cable networks continued to outscore the "Big Four" broadcast-television
networks in household delivery, household rating and audience share in the Nielsens for
week 47 (ended Aug. 15).