NEW YORK: US cable channels have boosted their upfront advertising revenues ahead of their broadcast rivals, according to early indications from this year's almost completed advance sales fest.

It is expected the cable TV stations will notch up around $8 billion (€5.14bn; £4.07bn) in airtime sales for the new fall season, an increase of between 7% and 8% over last year.

The broadcast networks saw their upfront total rise by just 1% to $9.2bn.

One reason for the shift is that ratings differences have narrowed significantly. Network broadcasters generally have seen their audience share slide, while their cable rivals are setting records for viewer numbers.

In addition, advertisers are spreading their bets as media continue to fragment; niche channels are attracting ad dollars away from general interest shows; and last winter's Hollywood writers' strike made cable look more attractive.

Comments Jason Kanefsky svp at media buyer MPG: "The natural shift of dollars to cable will continue. It just makes sense. Why pay more for eyeballs on CBS when you can go out and buy eyeballs on Turner for half the price?"

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff