Cable nets show slight overall drop in clutter: nonprogram minutes per hour increased on 11 networks

Christopher Schultz

Clutter remains a big problem for cable networks, with five major channels averaging more than 17 minutes of nonprogram time per hour in November 2001.

The American Association of Advertising Agencies (the Four As) and the Association of National Advertisers last week released their annual Television Commercial Monitoring Report, known commonly as the Clutter Report, at the Four AS’ ninth annual Media Conference and Trade Show in Orlando, Fla.

The Clutter Report monitors how much time “nonprogram material” runs on television. According to the study, “nonprogram material” includes network and local commercials, public service announcements, program credits, station and network promos and “other unidentified gaps.”

Overall, the report showed that total nonprogram material on the 19 cable networks studied was down 0.1% from November 2000 to November 2001. But the most cluttered networks were more cluttered than they were a year ago, and 11 of the networks showed increases.

Clutter ranged from 17 minutes, 24 seconds for E! Entertainment per hour to 9 minutes, 58 seconds for CNN.

The broadcast networks average 16 minutes, 9 seconds of nonprogram minutes per hour, according to the report. Four As president and CEO O. Burtch Drake previewed the news two weeks ago at the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau (CAB) Cable Advertising Conference in New York, where he said: “Cable has significantly more nonprogramming time than networks.”

One cable network executive said the report may be unfair because of the amount of branding cable networks do.

Jason Malamud, VP-affiliate ad sales at MTV, said at the CAB conference that the interstitial promotions many cable networks use to brand themselves, but that aren’t revenue-generating per se, are perhaps an element of what broadcast networks haven’t succeeded in doing: branding themselves. So, Malamud says, the term “clutter” isn’t appropriate.

For example, at MTV, the report found that of total nonprogram material of 17 minutes, 9 seconds, commercials accounted for 14 minutes, 18 seconds, with public service announcements taking up 4 seconds and promos, credits and other absorbing 2 minutes, 47 seconds.

Nevertheless, few viewers tune in to see promos.

The Clutter Report analyzed the 19 networks on May 15 and Nov. 13, 2001, during five dayparts. Taking two samples at different times of the year allows for “seasonal fluctuations in clutter levels,” the report said.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Access Intelligence, LLC

COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning

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