OnScreen Media Summit: 67% Of Cable Fare Is Original


Original cable TV programming continues to proliferate and now accounts for some two-thirds of what’s found on networks’ air.

Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau president and CEO Sean Cunningham, during his luncheon keynote address at the “B&C-Multichannel OnScreen Media Summit” here Tuesday afternoon, said that programmers have allocated $20 billion behind an array of original fare, which now accounts for 67% of what viewers find when they tune in cable networks.

Those outlays have helped keep linear TV ahead of the media curve that has increasingly resulted in content migrating to a multitude of screens. Cunningham said that while 2008 will see record video usage among new-media platforms, Americans are watching more of the original small screen than ever before. The CAB executive said that Americans are watching 33 hours of TV weekly, a total only eclipsed by their working or going to school, or another popular activity, sleeping.

Moreover, Cunningham said the youth of the country, the 18-to-24 and 18-to-34 sets who have grown up with computers and other devices, are also watching linear TV “just as much, or more than their older counterparts.”

Cunningham emphasized his point by saying the perception that ancillary video usage would cannibalize traditional watching “never happened, and I don’t think it will happen anytime soon.”

For its part, cable has benefited greatly from the nation’s appetite for TV: Cunningham said cable viewing is up 15% thus far in 2008, a 58-quarter run of growth, a trend he also doesn’t see changing in the offing.

Cunningham also talked up linear's role in these recessionary times, noting that viewers advertising “contract” is strongest with TV. He said that consumers’ interest in watching advertisements “diminishes with the size of the screen.”

He noted that the strength of cable networks’ and operators’ brands is a powerful driver relative to generating productive business and transactional leads. To that end, the precision of cable’s targeted audience and ratings, and its ability to direct ads both geographically and to zones, are important components in reaching customers. Cable’s capabilities extend to DMAs and then to national overlays. In short, cable has advertisers and their attendant messages covered no matter what the target.

For more coverage of the OnScreen Summit, click here.