Forecaster Bullish on Cable Ad Sales


New York -- National advertisers' spending in seven
major consumer media should rise by 7.1 percent in 1998, to $52.2 billion, with cable
posting the strongest percentage growth -- up 13 percent to nearly $6.2 billion.

That's according to the latest projections by Robert
Coen, senior vice president and forecasting director at McCann-Erickson USA.

Indeed, in Coen's crystal ball, cable will be the sole
medium to notch double-digit growth over last year.

The closest media in ad-sales growth, percentagewise, will
be: television syndication, radio and newspapers, each climbing by 7.5 percent; spot TV,
up 7 percent; and the "Big 4" broadcast TV networks and magazines, each up a
"modest" 5.5 percent, Coen predicted.

The Big 4 networks will remain the top consumer medium in
ad dollars, at more than $13.7 billion, he added.

The veteran ad-spending forecaster also said during a
briefing for the press and investment analysts here last week that total U.S. advertising
expenditures in all media should top $200 billion by year's end, with the 6.8 percent
uptick greater than the 6.2 percent rise that Coen had projected in December.

Of that total, local volume should account for $82
billion-plus, he said, without breaking out cable separately.

Coen is bullish on advertising growth into the new
millennium. "As long as the economic climate is good, there is little likelihood of a
slowdown in advertising expansion," he said. Despite the absence of the Olympic Games
and major election campaigning, he felt that momentum should continue in 1999 and build to
"record levels" in 2000.

His bullishness was sparked not only by the healthy
economy, but also by the fact that most major advertisers in key categories are increasing
their budgets to compete more intensely for market share.

As the Big 4 TV networks' Nielsen Media Research
ratings have slipped and basic-cable networks' ratings have grown, Coen said, cable
has seen clients' ad spending jump by double-digits during each quarter since January
1996. Although the rate of cable ad-sales growth has slowed, from nearly 27 percent in the
first quarter of 1996 to almost 16 percent in the first quarter of 1998, he said, that
still surpasses the first-quarter-1998 gains for the other major media.

Network TV is the closest, up almost 15 percent, but Coen
pointed out that the upsurge owed much to the Winter Olympics on CBS.

"The continued erosion in network [TV] audiences would
require double-digit CPM [cost-per-thousand] increases for the networks to post even
relatively modest revenue gains for the rest of the year," Coen said, "and
advertisers are strongly resisting high price increases in this low-inflationary business

During the recent TV primetime-upfront-sales marketplace,
other industry sources estimated that the "Big 3" TV networks' CPM
increases were held to the 2 percent to 4 percent range, with Fox's up by 9 percent
and The WB Television Network's in the high teens, but from a lower base.