CAB: Cable Networks Take In Bundle in ’09 Ad Sales

With a little less than a month to go before the year finally recedes in the rearview mirror, U.S. cable networks are poised to outperform earlier expectations.

The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau on Wednesday projected a year-over-year volume increase growth of 1.8 percent, with cable nets amassing a total $18.7 billion in ad sales. That estimate marks a $330 million increase from last year’s $18.4 billion haul.

“Ad budgets were under intense scrutiny…so [the increase] is extremely gratifying,” said CAB president and CEO Sean Cunningham, who added that the organization “did a lot of work with agencies and advertisers on cable’s gains in original programming, ratings and reach analysis.”  

Cable thrived even as the recession took a bite out of all other major media. All told, national advertising declined by some 14 percent versus the year-ago period.

Ad sales dollars grew despite a contracted upfront marketplace. According to the CAB, network dollar volume was down 13 percent to $6.6 billion in the 2009-10 bazaar, a decline that reflected advertiser pullback and a shift to scatter spending. In 2008, cable nets landed $7.65 billion in upfront commitments.

In October, Mediaweek estimated cable upfront volume was down 12 percent to $6.73 billion.

Per the CAB’s reckoning, a good portion of this year’s upfront deals were enriched by branded integrations and multi-media extensions. Approximately 20 percent of all deals included executions that carried on beyond the linear TV space.

With the 2009 numbers in hand, cable is now on track to having racked up eight consecutive years of ad sales growth. Since 2001, when the nets took in $11.8 billion in ad sales revenue, the total dollar amount has increased by 59 percent.