MAGNA Global USA, the Interpublic Group of Cos.' media-buying operation, said
Tuesday in its fall-primetime-season analysis that basic cable as a whole 'will
likely attract more households than the six broadcast networks for the full
regular [2002-03] season.'
Although this will not be the case for most demographic breakouts -- 'except
teens, among whom this is already true' -- MAGNA senior vice president and
director of audience analysis Steve Sternberg said, 'It is still a significant
Sternberg also pointed out that cable growth in channel capacity and
penetration has been 'the single biggest factor in broadcast-network erosion.'
Last year, the average television household could receive 89 channels, up from
33 in 1990, he noted.
Moreover, the percentage of households receiving more than 100 channels --
mostly cable -- has jumped from 16 percent in 2000 to 25 percent in 2001, he
said, adding that this figure is projected to reach '40 percent or more' in the
Sternberg also said the rising number of program repeats, especially during
nonsweeps months (December, January and March), is 'another major contributor to
network rating declines.'
In the coming broadcast season, MAGNA is projecting a virtual dead heat in
the fourth-quarter Nielsen Media Research household ratings race between NBC and
CBS, with CBS likely to win four nights (Monday, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday)
and NBC the rest.
NBC will retain its Nielsen ratings lead in the 18-through-49, 18-through-34
and 25-through-54 demos, Sternberg said.
The runner-up spot in the 18-through-49 demo race will be hotly contested
among CBS, Fox and ABC, he said, adding that Fox's strength among young men will
give it a strong finish among adults 18 through 34.
In the 25-through-54 breakout, CBS should be second among adults and women,
but it will likely find itself in a tight battle with Fox and ABC among