So all in, it wasn’t the greatest quarter ever for the local cable advertising business.
Looking at Q1 results for the six publicly reporting cable companies shows average advertising revenue growth of just 2.3%, with three of the six companies making less money than they did a year ago. Here’s the table:
The glass-half-full perspective is that the industry held its ground as the political market went underground except for a few high-profile, isolated races (like the Los Angeles and NYC mayoral contests that contributed positively to TWC Media). The less optimistic view is that, like the broadcast TV market, local cable is in for a challenging year as the macro local ad economy flattens. This week Nexstar Broadcasting’s Chairman and CEO Perry Sook said advertising revenue growth probably won’t top 3% over the next several years.
Still, cable has some bright spots. Suddenlink parent Cequel Communications reported a 9.8% lift in advertising revenue for the Jan.-March period, thanks to “higher national and local advertising sales revenue in part from increased automotive advertising and a new advertising contract in one of our markets.”
TWC’s Q1 comparison benefitted from the inclusion of Insight Communications advertising operations in acquired markets, but backing out the Insight contribution of $6 million in ad revenue, the organic ad revenue increase was a solid 5.8% year over year.
One interesting takeaway is that two of the three companies showing…