Chicago -- Comcast Cable Communications Inc. president Steve Burke told the
Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau's 10th annual Cable Sales
Management Conference here Monday afternoon that his goal is to make his MSO
"the No. 1 source for local advertising."
The $1 billion it now generates in ad revenues puts Comcast in the same
league as the ABC and NBC TV-station groups, he estimated, adding that Comcast
intends to double that in the next five years, largely via the interconnect
strategy cited in a morning panel session by Comcast ad-sales president Charlie
Recalling that in his final days as an ABC Broadcasting executive, he felt
himself "constantly swimming against the current" of cable-ratings growth, Burke
said, "Advertising was certainly one of the reasons: behind Comcast's AT&T
That acquisition put Comcast in 22 of the top 25 markets, he noted.
revenues represent "6% to 7% of our sales, 11% of our cash flow," Burke told his
audience of 1,000-plus, including 200-plus agency and client executives invited
as part of the CAB's "Chicago Cable Day."
Burke also referred to the importance of local-cable-ratings measurement and
added that Comcast is "going to do its part" to bring Nielsen Media Research's
"Local People Meters" to its other top 10 markets besides Boston.
Turning to video-on-demand, Burke said it will be available to 50% of its
21.3 million subscribers by year's end and 80% by the end of 2004.
"That technology, for me, is perfect for advertising," he said, hopeful that
it will have a meaningful impact on revenues in five years.
Burke's speech and rep firm National Cable Communications' upfront-style
spot-cable sales presentation were followed on the CAB's Monday agenda by an
ad-agency panel, during which buyers acknowledged cable's targetability and
NCC's back-room improvements but reiterated the ad community's longtime
complaint that local cable is difficult to buy.
Senior vice president and media director of local investments Kevin Gallagher
at Starcom MediaVest Group said cable networks in aggregate may account for more
than one-half of TV's viewership but, when one gets down to individual networks,
"the big ratings aren't there."
Executive VP and director of account and media services Jonathan Lichter at
Kelly, Scott & Madison said, "It's a lot of work to buy cable." He also
called attention to the importance of accurate local ratings data by saying, "If
the numbers are fuzzy, that's a real drawback."
Pointing to another local cable snag, Initiative Media Worldwide executive VP
and director of local broadcast Kathy Crawford said, "We need to get the
invoices in a more timely fashion."
Some clients need their invoices in 45 days and if they don't get them, she
added, that can affect those operators' inclusion in future media