New York -- The spot cable rep firms, bolstered by a strong
third quarter, should finish the year with healthy ad sales, once all the numbers are
A bullish sales report from Cable Networks Inc. came on the
heels of the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau's mid-December release of solid
percentage gains for the third quarter and the first nine months of 1998 -- 42 percent and
44 percent respectively.
Spot cable is on track to easily surpass the 26 percent
uptick recorded in 1997, when the CAB estimated national spot cable sales volume at $242
million. The CAB doesn't report dollar estimates on a quarterly basis.
CNI senior vice president Deborah Cuffaro described the rep
firm's third quarter as "terrific, extremely strong and way above budget."
Categories fueling the rep's last two quarters, she
said, included political and entertainment. Within entertainment, CNI for the first time
was able to sell the movie category for its regional news networks, she added.
CNI's final quarter included a "fabulous"
October and November, Cuffaro said. Although "December [was] not quite where
we'd like it to be," as has been the case in recent years, she said CNI hoped to
lift its total with last-minute business booked in the last week of the year.
Another factor in CNI's sluggish December results is
that the rep firm is switching out of repping various Tele-Communications Inc. and Time
Warner Cable systems that recently switched to National Cable Communications, she said.
By virtually all accounts, 1998 has been a solid ad sales
year, but executives at NCC have been unavailable for comment due to a management
conference and the holidays.
Despite spot cable's hefty sales gains this year and
last, the CAB conceded that its total is far behind the $10 billion that went into
broadcast television's spot coffers.
In hopes of lifting sales even more in 1999, NCC and CNI in
association with the CAB last October pitched agency buyers in seven key cities with their
National Spot Cable Forum. The idea of that tour was to make sure buyers know about
improvements that make spot cable far easier to buy.
About 60 percent of national spot business is bought
outside New York.