Hot Summer Start for Cable


Cable started the summer television season blazing in its audience-share battle against the seven broadcast networks.

Despite promises of more original programming during a period once littered with repeats, the broadcast networks were only able to muster a 35 share during the week of May 31-June 6, compared with a whopping 57.9 share for cable, according to Lifetime Television.

Given cable’s historically strong summer performances and its unprecedented win over broadcast networks during the winter 2003-04 television season, executives believe cable will continue to draw the lion’s share of viewers during the summer months.

“After taking a full decade to inculcate viewers into the fact that in May, [broadcast-network schedules are] over and they should go someplace else, it’s very hard to reverse something like that,” Lifetime executive vice president of research Tim Brooks said. “Cable has learned how to exploit that by premiering programming at the beginning of the summer and capturing attention.”

Even NBC’s highly-rated Summer Olympic Games coverage won’t rescue the networks from their summer share doldrums.

The 2000 Barcelona Olympics helped the broadcast networks to beat cable’s share during the third quarter, 46.7-44.3. But given cable’s resounding 54.3-38.2 share win during the third quarter of 2003 and its impressive start thus far this year, Turner Broadcasting System Inc. chief research officer Jack Wakshlag said it would be very difficult for the networks to catch cable even with a strong Olympics showing.