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Cable Spot Sales Slow

Ad sales for spot cable increased somewhat in June, but July remains soft.

According to Kathy Crawford, president of local broadcast, MindShare, the New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Washington and Atlanta markets saw stronger sales in June. Markets with weaker sales: Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Detroit, Houston and Seattle.

"July is all negotiable except for D.C.," Crawford explains. "Buyers will find prices flat if placed with enough time. But last-minute deals will find 10%-15% increases. In some markets, that could even be higher."

Jean Pool, COO/director of Universal-McCann North America, also says demand for spot cable in July is not strong. She won't pay huge increases. "I don't pay double-digit increases for cable," she says. "If I see them [in a market], I walk away."

As for network cable, Pool says, "There is still availability, but I see this year as trending down from last year, with increases under 5%."

Bonita Le Flore, Zenith executive VP/director of local broadcast, says, "Local cable is mirroring local broadcast. Things are extremely tight in New York, Tampa, L.A. and San Francisco, but when you get to markets 40-plus, it's negotiable, especially if you're trying to get into July. But if you're trying to place a spot for next week, you'll pay a premium. Second-tier cable networks are still available."

Nielsen Monitor-Plus recently reported cable-network gains of 10.4% for first quarter. But recent Magna Global research notes that no cable network averages a 1 rating in prime time among adults 18-49.