Take cover: Forecast darkens for cable spending

August 13, 2008

storm-clouds.jpgAnybody out there in TV land riding an Olympic buzz (NBC’s ratings have been scorching) will be brought back down to earth by these numbers from SNL Kagan.

Cable TV ad revenue is forecast to grow at just 4.7 percent in 2009, the firm says. That compares to growth of about up 10 percent for 2008, when cable has been one of the few bright spots for media.  Or as paidContent sums it up, “This year appears bad enough for media revenues, but for cable TV, 2009 is nothing to look forward to.”

The SNL Kagan numbers back up concerns that were voiced in an article by Reuters’ Kenneth Li after Viacom’s quarterly earnings report last month.

Although the portfolios of each conglomerate varies, making sweeping generalizations difficult, what unites them is a fear that a dramatic halt in newspaper and local advertising could seep into national advertising, namely cable and broadcast networks.

It is all the more troubling because cable networks are seen riding a high as their shows vie for award nominations as aggressively as they court broadcast viewers.

Here’s what the Wall Street Journal says about the SNL Kagan report:

In recent weeks, several cable-network groups have reported double-digit ad-revenue growth in the first half of 2008, bucking the weakness in the rest of the ad market. In part, TV advertisers have been saving money by shifting dollars from broadcast to cable networks, which cost less. “But that can’t go on forever,” says Derek Baine, a senior analyst at SNL Kagan. “Cable networks are already seeing demand slow, and that trend will likely continue and get worse as broadcast networks roll out their fall season.” 

Well, there’s always booming Internet advertising.  

Or not. Bloomberg reports on another study that says Internet advertising spending in the US will be lower than expected this year and next.

EMarketer plans to cut its forecast for 23 percent growth in 2008 by “a few percentage points,” said analyst David Hallerman. The New York-based research firm had predicted almost $26 billion in ad sales this year. Hallerman said his estimate for 16 percent growth in 2009 is “also probably too high.”

Keep an eye on:

  • The decision to have a pretty face lip-synching during the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony instead of the actual singer was taken after consulting with broadcasters (Reuters)
  • Former HBO Chief Executive Chris Albrecht has left talent agency IMG (Reuters)
  • Best Buy will be the first national retailer to sell Appe’s iPhone in the United States in a partnership that could help drive sales of a device expected to be one of the hottest gadgets this holiday season (Reuters)
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