A Guide to Competitive Media

RAB's new Competitive Media section gives you complete access to the latest information profiling 10 competitive media. Each profile contains a complete whitepaper as well as the advantages, disadvantages and plus Radio for each medium.

This section also gives you the option to build custom media profiles reflecting specific talking points in a colorful, street-ready one sheet.

Cable/Satellite TV

  • The number of cable systems in operation in the U.S. declined to 7,426 in 2010, down from 7,677 the previous year and 10,929 in 2000. (National Cable & Telecommunications Association, 2011)

    As of late-2010, wired cable penetration of total television households stood at 60.7% (down from 61.7% in late-2009), which represented a 21-year low. Over the same period, direct broadcast satellite DBS providers increased their penetration of TV households from 29.3% in late-2009 to 30.5% in late-2010, an all-time high. (Nielsen Media Research, 2011)

    The average cable bill was approximately $75 in 2010, according to research firm Centris. Customers typically see an increase of $5 annually. (Centris, 2011)

    In 2010, the typical basic subscriber watched an average of 11.3 channels per week, 24.6 channels over a four-week period, and 35.1 channels during a 13-week interval. (Media Dynamics, 2011)

    Although the average adult basic cable subscriber watched an average of 11.3 channels per week in 2010, the numbers were higher for 18-34-year old viewers (11.6) and those ages 35-49 (11.9), and lower for those 65+ (10.0). (Media Dynamics, Inc., 2011)

    The largest multichannel video programming distributors (excluding DirecTV and Dish Network) in late-2010, based on number of basic video subscribers (totals in millions): 1. Comcast Corporation, 22.937; 2. Time Warner Cable, 12.551; 3. Cox Communications, 4.968; 4. Charter Communications, 4.653; 5. Verizon Communications, 3.290; 6. Cablevision Systems, 3.043; 7. AT&T, 2.739; 8. Bright House Networks, 2.194; 9. Suddenlink Communications, 1.228; 10. 7. Mediacom Communications, 1.203. (SNL Kagan, 2011)

    The top cable programming networks, based on average number of viewers in 2010: 1. USA; 2. Disney; 3. ESPN; 4. TNT; 5. Fox News; 6. TBS; 7. Nick at Nite; 8. History Channel; 9. A&E; 10. ABC Family. (Nielsen Media Research, 2011)

    Cable TV channels generate revenue through two streams: advertising and subscriber fees. Advertising makes up roughly half of the revenue the channels generate each year. (The State of the News Media, 2011)

    For the two DBS providers, 2010 revenues for DirecTV increased 11.7% to $24.10 billion, while DISH Network earnings amounted to $12.64 billion, a gain of 8.4%. (Company Reports, 2011)

    At the end of 2010, DirecTV had attracted 25.031 million subscribers, while the number of DISH Network subscribers totaled 14.133 million. (Company Reports, 2011)

    Share of weekly TV set usage in U.S. homes, by program source in the winter of 2010: Ad-supported basic cable, 48.0%; ABC/CBS/NBC programs, 14.2%; syndication, 8.3%; pay cable, 4.9%; ABC/CBS/NBC affiliates, 4.6%; VCR/DVD play, 3.9%; other broadcast networks, 2.6%; independent stations, 2.5%; PBS stations, 2.0%; video games, 2.0%; all other, 7.0%. (Media Dynamics, 2011)

    Network cable advertising revenue grew 9.6% in 2010 to $20.5 billion, while local cable ad sales jumped 20.0% to $6.6 billion. (Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, 2011)

    The top cable advertising categories in 2010: 1. Television & Cable TV; 2. Fast Food; 3. Insurance Providers; 4. Medicated Products and Non-RX Remedies; 5. Cars & Light Trucks (Asian); 6. Business, Personal & Residential Phone Services; 7. Discount Department Stores; 8. Household Cleaning Products; 9. Cars & Light Trucks (Domestic); 10. Cosmetics & Skin Care Products. (Media Monitors, 2011)

    Estimated median audience age for the following cable TV genres: Kid/Cartoon Channels, 11.6; Music Channels, 23.0; Comedy/Entertainment Channels, 33.3; Sports Channels, 41.8; Women-Oriented Channels, 47.0; Documentary/Information Channels, 50.8; News/Business Channels, 59.6. (Media Dynamics, 2011)

    Seasonal viewing of cable channels is fairly consistent throughout the year. (Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, 2011)

    The number of basic cable video customers has steadily fallen in recent years, from 65.4 million in 2006 to 63.7 million in 2008 and 59.8 million in 2010. At the same time, the number of digital video customers has risen from 32.6 million in 2006 to 44.7 million in 2010. (SNL Kagan, 2011)

  • Reach: Cable TV now reaches more than 90% of U.S. television households. (Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, 2011)

    Targeted: Cable networks are targeted to specific demographics and clusters of people.

    Affluent Audience: Data from a variety of sources indicate that pay cable homes are considerably younger, more affluent and better-educated than non-cable households. (Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, 2011)

    Cost: Low CPMs.

    Programming Diversity: Cable channels are willing to take chances on the types of trendy programs that broadcast networks typically will not consider.

    More Options: Between 2005 and 2010, the number of original programs on ad-supported cable almost doubled. (Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, 2011)

  • Small Audiences: You can’t have large audiences for any given channel or program when there are dozens, even hundreds of channels from which to choose. Individual cable channels rarely pull in the big ratings.

    Production Costs: According to the American Association of Advertising Agencies, production costs for a national :30 commercial averaged over $300,000 in 2009. Producing quality commercials significantly impacts ad budgets.

    Commercial Quality: A certain percentage of cable commercials done on a local scale tend to be poorly produced, creating a poor image for cable TV advertising.

    Ad Clutter: Commercial clutter is very high on some cable channels.

    Income: Consumers with annual household incomes under $30,000 are the most devoted television viewers (including both network and cable channels). (TV Dimensions, 2011)

    Reach: Local commercials appear only on ad supported cable channels distributed through cable systems. Although over 90% of households receive cable channels, only about 60% receive those channels as a subscriber to a cable system. The remainder receive cable channels through Alternative Distribution Systems (ADS), which is predominantly satellite.

  • Excellent Reach: Radio reaches 93% of all Americans 12 years and older every week, based on 2011 Arbitron studies. Cable TV reaches 70% of adults ages 18-49 and 73% ages 25-54 on a weekly basis, according to TV Dimensions 2011. And branding requires reach. Can you think of a single advertiser who has used cable to create a brand?

    Larger Audiences: Radio has fewer channels in most markets than the number of Cable TV channels available to subscribers. Fragmentation of audience across dozens, or even hundreds of channels, means an average Radio station can reach more people than an average cable channel.

    Quality Production: Quality Radio production costs a fraction of what quality TV production costs. Advertisers buying inexpensive Cable TV commercials are unlikely to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in TV commercial production. Inexpensive commercials create a poor image for the advertiser. This is especially true when the spots airs near a quality network commercial.

    Reduced Clutter: Advertisers have expressed concern over the number of commercials per hour on Radio, yet Cable TV airs on average twice as many commercials per hour. Commercials are more powerful when limited as they are on the Radio.

    Power of Persuasion: According to Radio Ad Lab studies, adding Radio to a TV campaign can increase a consumer’s brand preference in relation to purchase intent.

    Communication: Effectively communicates a message that can be received, remembered and played back by consumers.

Other Competitive Media Resources

In this section, you'll find links to information profiling media OTHER than radio. Below are links to Weekly Sales Meetings, Whitepapers, special reports and other articles that you can use to help your advertisers understand the important role of Radio in supporting ANY marketing effort.

Please make your selection from the lists below and don't forget, you can always call RAB's Member Response Helpline at 1-800-232-3131 for more information.