Cable Wins Out Over Broadcast

NEW YORK The broadcast networks aren’t just losing viewers to cable. They’re also losing the image race, according to a new study from Beta Research Corp. that tracks ad and marketing executives’ perception of the two TV media.

In all, 301 senior execs were asked by phone to rate the networks in various categories using a five-point scale, with five the highest score.

NBC was the only broadcast net to fare well in terms of brand image-91 percent of respondents rated it a four or five, second only to ESPN, at 93 percent-and cable’s CNN, MTV and Discovery Channel ranked above CBS, Fox and ABC.

Moreover, “When it comes to creative marketing and promotion opportunities, the top eight in our survey were all cable networks,” said Andy Klein, president of the Syosset, N.Y., research firm’s cable TV division.

Fox was the best-rated broadcast net in that area, earning 47 percent of the highest marks. MTV was first, with 64 percent, followed closely by Discovery, Nickelodeon and ESPN.

The nets deemed to have the most competent sales reps were Discovery, ESPN/ABC Sports and A&E.

The survey was conducted last September and October.

Reps for the major broadcast nets were unavailable for comment. But buyers said numbers drive perception, noting cable’s improving image is tied to its growing viewership.

Media spending on cable between January and October 2002 was $8.7 billion, a growth of 1 percent from the same period in 2001, per CMR. Broadcast decreased nearly 10 percent to $16.3 billion. Several sources described broadcast’s audience erosion as an increasing trend.

“Cable’s share of viewing is growing, so obviously that’s helping feed the favorable view among advertisers,” said Andy Donchin, svp, director, national broadcast at Aegis’ Carat, New York.