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Cable Scatter Is Hard To Deduce

Third- and fourth-quarter cable-network scatter spending is up. How high remains a matter of some debate, but some networks are getting price hikes of 20% vs. the upfront.

"Third quarter slowed down a lot, although it started out strong," says Gibbs Haljun, VP/associate director, national broadcast, MediaVest. "Now everyone's looking at 4th quarter, and there are lots of opportunities. However, it's supply and demand, and there's just not enough demand out there to support all the network ad increases."

Haljun sees cable's second half up anywhere from 4% to 20%, depending on the network.

"There was a summer lull," says Greg D'Alba, COO of CNN sales and marketing, "but September is heating up pretty well. Fourth quarter last year was very good, and we're pacing ahead of that." He predicts high-double-digit increases.

"We're still cutting a few broadcast year deals," D'Alba adds. Pharmaceuticals, auto, financial services, telecommunications remain strong.

Bruce Lefkowitz, EVP/ad sales, FX, concurs. "I see the back half of the year up 12%-14% for cable nets."

Meanwhile, some industry observes challenge Nielsen Monitor-Plus's recent report that put first-half network cable down 4.6%.

"That number is just totally counterintuitive," says Paul Woolmington, CEO, MediaKitchen. "Some fringe networks doing really well aren't included."

On the local/regional level, spot cable is up 11% through July, according to Charlie Thurston, president, Comcast Ad Sales, which recently announced 12 new interconnected markets.