National Cable Upfront Drops 6%: CAB

After reaching a record level, national cable networks saw their upfront intake decline by 6% for the 2014-15 television season, according to The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau.

All told, national cable secured $9.6 billion in upfront TV/video spending from advertisers during the annual Madison Avenue bazaar, down from $10.2 billion during the 2013-14 upfront selling season. 

The drop, which CAB attributes to clients keeping their TV ad dollars in hand until they need to be expressed on-air as a means to gain financial flexibility to make investments closer to the beginning of campaigns, ended a four-season run of significant upticks by the medium.

According to CAB, national cable network saw their collective upfront dollar base jump 52% from $6.7 billion in 2009-10, following the end of the recession, to last year's $10.2 billion mark, an increase of some $3.5 billion over that span.

“Several big-spending advertisers stated that they anticipated spending fewer ad dollars in this year’s Upfront, and nearly all cited increased flexibility as their reason why,” said CAB president and CEO Sean Cunningham. “Cable networks are meeting this instinct for immediacy with multiscreen brand programs around hit shows.”

Cable TV/Video Upfront Dollars

2014/2015: $9.624 billion, - 6% (- $577 million)

2013/2014: $10.220 billion + 4.3% ($423 million)

2012/2013: $9.797 billion, + 5% ($511 million)

2011/2012: $9.286 billion, + 16% ($1,283 million)

2010/2011: $8.003 billion, + 19% ($1,278 million)

2009/2010: $6.725 billion

Source: CAB