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TV Ad Market Picks Up

9/27/2010 12:25 AM Eastern

Building on strong gains
in the second quarter, two top
cable-programming executives
said last week that the domestic
advertising market continues to
show signs of life and that momentum
should continue for the
rest of the year.

At Viacom, which has lagged
the rest of the cable industry in
domestic ad sales growth over the
past several quarters, the third
quarter is expected to be even
better than the previous threemonth
period, according to CEO
Philippe Dauman. Building on
robust ratings from reality hits
like MTV’s Jersey Shore and comedy
programming like Comedy
Central’s The Daily Show With Jon
Stewart
— and with a crop of new
advertisers coming into the mix
— Dauman said at the Goldman
Sachs Communacopia conference
last week that third-quarter
domestic ad sales will rise by
more than 4% (the second-quarter
mark) and the fourth-quarter
growth will be even higher.

First-quarter U.S. ad sales rose
about 1% at Viacom, which includes
MTV: Music Television, Comedy
Central, BET, TV Land, and Nickelodeon
and second-quarter growth
was 4%. In contrast, Discovery
Communications saw domestic ad
revenue rise 9% in the first quarter
and 13% in the second quarter.

But Dauman was encouraged
by ratings growth — he said that
MTV’s overall ratings are up 28%
this year. And he added that the
top 10 shows in the 12-to-34 year
old demographic are all MTV
programming, and the No. 11
show in the age bracket is Nickelodeon’s
iCarly, a show targeted
at tweens.
“It’s not just the Jersey Shore,”
Dauman said of MTV’s hits.

SCATTER ON THE RISE

At Time Warner, which includes
cable powerhouses CNN, TBS
and TNT, chief financial officer
John Martin said that the ad
market continues to be “really
strong,” adding that scatter pricing
is up 20% in some cases over
the upfront.

The two men differed slightly
in their approaches to online
video distribution, with Martin
predictably embracing the TV Everywhere
concept pioneered by
Time Warner and Comcast and
Dauman taking a more wait and
see attitude.

“I can’t remember a time when
our content had more demand
around it. There are more and
more players that want to help
us try to monetize our content,”
Martin said at Communacopia.
“We have a very strong view that
digital is going to be good for our
business.”

Dauman pointed
to Viacom’s
own Epix partnership
and its recent
streaming deal
with Netflix as an
example of how online
distribution can
work. It has been reported
that the five year
deal is worth
about $1 billion. But
he said other online
venues — notably Apple
TV — are not quite
as appealing.

Nevertheless, Dauman said Viacom
is following developments
at Hulu and is in tests with several
distributors (cable, satellite and
telco) with TV Everywhere. With
TV Everywhere, Dauman said
that questions remain regarding
the user interface and whether
the service will be measured by
a ratings company like Nielsen to
allow the networks to monetize
the content.

“We’re working with the players
there. Once all those things get figured
out, it can be a valuable service
for consumers and should be
good for us,” Dauman said.


NOT OVER-THE-TOP YET

On the subject of over-the-top
video, Martin said that Time
Warner would not undermine
its own economics by endangering
its relationships with traditional
distributors. And though
Martin said that at the moment
over-the-top video does not offer
a compelling customer experience,
his company is poised to
take advantage of any shifts in
the landscape.

 

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