Turner’s Wakshlag: Summer Record for Cable


With one week to go, basic cable is on track to set viewership records this summer.

Turner Broadcasting System Inc. chief research officer Jack Wakshlag pegged basic cable’s share at 57.3 from May 31-Aug. 22, compared with the seven broadcast networks, which collectively scored a record-low 35.7.

Presenting these and other findings at a press luncheon at Time Warner Inc.’s Manhattan headquarters Wednesday, Wakshlag said those figures compared with a 54.9 share for basic cable and a 36.9 for the older medium last summer, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

“Even if broadcast gains another share point [this week] with the [Olympic Games], it will still be the lowest [summer] ever for broadcast,” he added.

Turner research attributed much of NBC’s primetime household increase for the Games -- a 15.6 average Aug. 13-22, compared with a 4.9 mark versus the corresponding period last year -- to a trio of factors.

Heightened HUT/PUT (households using television/people using television) levels, which grew to 58.0 from 54.7, accounted for 28% of the “Peacock’s” growth, while the weighted rating decline of the six other broadcasters to an 11.6 from a 14.6 was responsible for 28%.

For its part, basic cable sustained a 1.8-point drop in ratings to a 28.5 from a 30.3 in the 2003 period. That fall-off represented 17% of NBC’s Games gain, according to the Turner analysis.

Factoring in the first week of the Olympics, the Turner analysis found that NBC, up 14%, was the only broadcaster to register improvement among the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demo in primetime during the summer to date period in question.

ABC, Fox and UPN were down 5%, 16% and 8%, respectively, against this demo, while Pax TV, The WB Television Network and CBS -- the latter of which had been up 4% before the Olympics -- were unchanged from the 2003 span.