Cable Penetration Slips, DBS Rises

The Television Bureau of Advertising was crowing Wednesday over Nielsen Media Research figures showing a nine-year low in cable penetration thanks to the growth of alternative delivery systems, most notably direct-broadcast satellite.

The majority of TV households still get cable, but penetration is down from 67.9% to 66.9% in the past year, while DBS penetration is at 18%, up from 15.8% in July 2003.

The reason local broadcasters prefer DBS to cable delivery of their signals is that cable operators can insert local ads and sell against stations. by contrast, there is currently no way to insert local advertisements into DBS-delivered programming.

"Advertisers who buy cable locally need to know that local wired cable systems' ability to deliver commercials continues to erode," says Susan Cuccinello, Senior Vice President, Research, TVB.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.