Cable upfront dropped 6 percent to $9.6B, advertising bureau says

Giving specific size and scope to the advertising slowdown the TV business is currently experiencing, cable networks saw their collective upfront ad haul drop 6 percent over the summer to $9.6 billion, according to statistics released by the Cable Advertising Bureau.

The upfront market is where TV networks sell the bulk of their national advertising for the coming season. According to the CAB, the 6 percent reduction represents about a $577 million drop from the $10.2 million committed to the last TV season, 2013-14.

"Several big-spending advertisers stated that they anticipated spending fewer ad dollars in this year's upfront, and nearly all cited increased flexibility as their reason why," said CAB president and CEO Sean Cunningham in a statement. "Cable networks are meeting this instinct for immediacy with multiscreen brand programs around hit shows."

The setback--which mirrors a the decline in the broadcast upfront market--comes after four years of post-recessionary growth for TV ads. From the tough 2009-10 campaign to 2013-14, cable upfront grew 52 percent.

On Tuesday, John Wren, CEO of Omnicom Group, said during the advertising conglomerate's third quarter earnings call Tuesday that there has been a noticeable shift of TV dollars to programmatic advertising and other digital platforms.

Meanwhile, in Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) third-quarter earnings report Thursday, NBCU chief Steve Burke seemed resigned to a cable programming business that had reached maturity after several decades of steep growth. "Our big cable channels…are very attractive and very powerful," he said. "I just think it is unreasonable to assume that the ratings for those businesses are going to grow if you look over a five- or 10-year period,"

For more:
- read this Variety story

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