Cable Networks Pack More Spots Into Shows

7% Increase Comes Amid Lower Ratings and Weak Ad Market

With ratings down and the ad market weak, some programmers — particularly on cable — are packing more commercials into their shows to keep ad revenue from falling further.

"The ratings 'losers' are taking desperate measures to shore up near-term margins — but at the long-term risk of further pushing away viewers and reducing advertiser ROI," said analyst Todd Juenger of Sanford C. Bernstein, author of one of two research reports that came out Wednesday morning (Jan. 28).

Michael Nathanson of MoffetNathanson Research found that among cable networks, the number of spots was up 7% in the quarter. Viacom had the biggest increase — a 13% jump — followed by a 10% hike by A+E Networks and a 9% rise at Discovery. The smallest increases were registered by Disney-owned networks, independent channels and Time Warner.

The total number of spots on broadcast networks was down 2% in the fourth quarter. But Fox packed 15% more spots into its programming, nearly offsetting declines at the other nets.

Read more of this story at