Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

TV Ad Markets Show Improvement

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

TV Ad Markets Show Improvement

Article excerpt

By Geraldine Fabrikant

N.Y. Times News Service

If the upont market for television advertising time is any indication, the economic recovery is tepid at best. Network executives estimate that the four networks took in about $3.5 billion, or roughly the same amount as last year, in advance sales of advertising time in the new television season.

Nevertheless, the flat overall dollar amount represents a recovery for the television business to some degree, since advertisers spent almost the same amount of money to buy about 5 percent less advertising time. That could still shift if the General Motors Corp., which has not yet fully committed to the market, decides to spend $200 million more in the upont market.

The networks maintain that they are holding out more time this year for the "scatter" market, in which advertising time sold is after the new television season begins in the fall. But most industry experts believe that soft demand, and the difficulty of selling additional time without dropping below the cost per thousand households that each network had set for itself, made selling more time difficult.

Clearly, CBS was the winner in the upont market, selling the most time _ or about 80 percent of its total inventory for an estimated $1.2 billion, up from $1 billion last year. Being in first place in the ratings, CBS was able to raise the cost per thousand it charges advertisers. And with a broader audience watching, the unit costs for its programs rose as well.

The unit cost is the total dollar cost for a spot, reflecting the price a network charges per thousand viewers and and the total number of viewers for a program.

Although network executives would not comment officially, at least three executives suggested that CBS had succeeded in raising its cost per thousand by 5 percent to 7 percent. In turn, its unit prices, because it was selling more viewers to advertisers, may have jumped as much as 11 percent.

David Londoner, a television industry analyst at Wertheim Schroder Co., said CBS's performance was somewhat better than he had expected.

Meanwhile, NBC's ratings have declined sharply, sending the network to third place in prime time from first place last year. …

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