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As C3 Ratings Continue to Drop, Cable Adds Spots

TV audiences measured by the C3 commercial ratings used to buy and sell advertising continued to slide in the first quarter, and programmers with the biggest declines are adding more commercials to their air to keep revenue from falling faster.

In fact, C3 audiences in primetime were down about 10% from last year, according to a new report from Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger.

The Winter Olympics a year ago throws some comparisons out of whack, but Juenger said he was nonetheless able to identify some winners and losers in terms of audience share. Those winners included Disney and 21st Century, followed by CBS, Scripps Networks Interactive and AMC Networks. The losers were A+E Networks, Viacom and NBCUniversal.

“Conventional ad-supported TV audiences continue to get worse, and the ratings ‘losers’ continue to stuff more advertising into programming – which produces more near-term ad revenue but risks further pushing away viewers and reducing advertiser ROI,” Juenger said in his report.

Juenger said A+E, Viacom, Disney (ABC Family), AMC and NBCU all increased the ad loads on their cable networks, excluding news and sports programming. Ad loads at A+E and Viacom were up more than 5%. At Viacom, the ad load was up on 10 of 11 networks. Meanwhile, Fox, Time Warner, Discovery and Scripps Networks decreased the aggregate ad load on their cable networks compared to a year ago.