Study: Cable takes network ads

Broadcast projected to fall off 3% this year

Lehman Bros. is projecting a 3% falloff in broadcast TV upfront ad revenue this year, and a 5% bump for the cable networks.

A report by Lehman Bros. analyst Anthony DiClemente predicts that the Big Four broadcast networks will cumulatively take in $240 million less than last year's $8.2 billion, with cost-per-thousand price increases in the 5-6% range.

The report projects that Fox will be the only network to increase its dollar total over last year, by a slight 1%, while CBS will lose 5.7% of its revenue versus last year; ABC is forecast to drop by 3.5%, and NBC to decline by 3%.

Those figures are based on networks selling between 78-80% of their available ad inventory in the upfront market.

"We believe cable networks are becoming an attractive and realistic alternative to broadcast for TV ad buyers because of its growing audience, improvements in original programming, and cheaper CPMs," DiClemente reported. "As broadcast TV continues to suffer from lower than normal ratings, we continue to expect this shift of dollars and audience to cable."

The report praises Bravo, USA, TNT and TBS, Discovery, Food and HGTV as "continuing to reinvest in programming at a healthy clip."
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