Cable TV ad rates rise

21 June 2011

NEW YORK: Cable TV broadcasters are increasing both their ad rates and the amount of inventory they sell in advance, reflecting the migration of US viewers away from the "big four" networks.

The Wall Street Journal reports that rates are up 9-16% from last year. This includes a rise of 12-13% for Time Warner-owned TNT and TBS, while NBCUniversal's Bravo, E! and Oxygen channels are up 11-14%.

In all, 15% more cable network ad inventory has been sold in advance this year. Collectively, the deals are worth up to $9.3bn (€6.5bn, £5.7bn).

According to figures reported on, the "big four" were able to sell around 80% of their adspace during the upfronts season earlier this year, with the pre-sold inventory was worth up to $9.2bn. This is an increase from 2010's 77% and $8.5bn.

The figures also suggest that cable TV's pre-sales are on a par with that of the "big four" networks for the first time ever.

Commenting on cable's impressive performance, Anthony DiClemente, a media analyst at Barclays Capital, told the newspaper: "There are two drivers that have helped bring cable to parity with broadcast.

"One is the shift of viewers from broadcast to cable, which boosts cable ratings and inventory available for sale, and then also the narrowing of the pricing gap between broadcast and cable inventory."

Meanwhile, TV adspend as a whole is bouncing back strongly from recession-induced lows.

According to Warc's latest International Ad Forecast, TV expenditure in the US will rise by 3.8% this year, following a 7.8% rise in 2010.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal/; additional content by Warc staff