I enjoyed Sara Delano's article on Cable TV advertising (Selling & Marketing, May). While current research data does not accurately measure cable audiences, the rise in homes using television combined with a decline of both total ratings points and shares for standard broadcast stations indicates people must be watching something else. Lacking detailed knowledge of what that something else is, we can assume cable's alternative programs are part of it. There are undoubtedly substantial numbers of viewers even if we can't yet count them or know which channel they are watching. This requires more of a "shotgun" approach to time buying, but with cable's low rates, it can still be cost-effective.
The article could have been stronger in stressing the value of quality production. Cable rates are low because each channel is presumed to have a small but specific audience. But small audience should not mean small budget. If your message's production values don't stack up, neither will its sales value. A short "video" on cable's music television (MTV) may cost over $50,000 to produce, as will national TV spots. Good local spots can cost from $5,000 to $10,000. A cable "cheapie" could reflect badly on an advertiser if it doesn't have at least a degree of professional polish. It is far better to use the lower cost of a cable buy to free up more dollars for production.