Cable Ads Post Modest Gains In 2007

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Cable ended the 2007 calendar year growing its ad sales business by 6.5 %, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Only cable and Spanish language TV, with a year-over-year growth rate of 1.3%, posted gains for the year, according to the year-end compilation. By comparison, network TV was down 2% and spot TV was down 10.2%, while advertising on nationally syndicated fare was down 1.5%.

In the past, Jon Swallen, senior vice president of research for the firm, proffered cable growth numbers as a good news, bad news scenario. Overall sales were up, but a chunk of that revenue was from sales to direct response media clients, who traditionally buy otherwise unsold inventory at reduced rates.

But Swallen said he's dug deeper into the '07 figures and has found that among the 45 cable networks monitored by TNS, programmers are now taking spots that in the past have been used in-house for promotion and are selling them to direct marketers, therefore monetizing time that previously raised no ad revenues.

TNS estimates that cable TV finished 2007 with $17.84 billion in ad sales.

But the year, overall, was marked pessimism among advertisers and marketers, as the impact of the housing finance crunch rippled into lower consumer spending and hits to corporate bottom lines.

That pessimism continues today, with the only light on the horizon coming from the anticipated ad sales from the Olympics and political advertising in the second half, he said.

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