Cable Networks Stuffing More Ads Into Programs

With ratings mostly lower, media companies are stuffing more commercials into their cable networks in order to keep ad revenues from falling further.

AMC Networks increased its load of ad time by 10% in the second quarter compared to a year ago, according to a new report by Todd Juenger of Sanford C. Bernstein. Also posting big increases were Viacom, up 7% and A+E Networks, up 5%.

Juenger notes that Viacom and A+E have been ratcheting up their ad loads because they also registered among the biggest commercial ratings declines. AMC gained share of viewing, but Juenger says its original programming underperformed, possibly missing audience guarantees, leading the company to put more ads in its movie lineup.

C3 ratings among adults 18-49 in primetime dropped about 9%, he says.

“The continued ad stuffing is an obvious and unsustainable (some would say 'desperate') action by the networks to prop up ad revenue in the face of declining audiences,” Juenger said in his report, issued Monday. “Not only can this not be sustained going forward, it further contributes to the audience declines, making SVOD that much more preferable for viewers made numb by the absurd amount of ads (as well as decreasing the efficacy of the advertising that is still seen)."

Juenger noted that all of the kids TV programmers put more ads in their programming.

Nickelodeon was only up 6%, but the analyst says there seems to be little room for more ads on the network. Meanwhile its Viacom siblings, TeenNick and Nicktoons, were both up by double digits.

Cartoon Network, which gained share of views, raised its commercial and promo time by 4% according to Juenger.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.