CAB: Ratings Soar as Investment in Originals Grows

Driven by a wealth of original programming, ad-supported cable is outdrawing the broadcast networks by an average spread of 10.9 ratings points per night, according to Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau analysis.

The CAB on Monday said that cable is averaging a 35.3 household rating through the first 18 weeks of the current TV season (Sept. 22-Jan. 25), while the broadcast nets are averaging a 24.4 HH rating.

Cable is also enjoying gains among some core demos, growing 6.9 percent among adults 25-54 thus far in the 2008-’09 campaign, versus a 6.5 percent decline at the network level. Among adults 18-49, cable’s ratings are up 5.1 percent versus a year ago, while broadcast is down 8.3 percent.

A key factor in cable’s dominance in prime time is the sheer amount of original fare that can be found around the dial. Per CAB analysis, cable boasts 1,837 original programs, an increase of 153 percent versus the fourth quarter of 2002, when there were 725 originals on all ad-supported cable outlets.

General documentary programming (432 shows) and sports (392) account for 45 percent of cable’s slate of original fare, while scripted dramas make up just 4.4 percent of the 1,837 originals. That said, the number of original dramas on cable has exploded in the past six years, growing 531 percent from just 13 in Q4 ‘02.

“The pace of viewers’ flight to cable has surged dramatically over the past year,” said CAB president and CEO Sean Cunningham. “Advertisers in search of the right kind of value to achieve their goals in a tough environment will increasingly depend on their own flight to more cable brands and programming.”