ADDED VALUE OF WEB HITS FOR CABLE

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The niche orientation of cable TV programming is smoothing the way for the medium's convergence with the Internet, says Sean Finnegan, a partner and media director at JWT Digital Communications, New York.

"Cable TV is a hot area for convergence with the Internet, because the type of specific content found on cable TV ideally suits the web's niche atmosphere. Fans of specific types of programming on cable TV networks are spending time on cable TV Web sites seeking specific information-and advertisers love this," Mr. Finnegan says.

In addition, in the last 12 months thousands more loyal cable TV viewers have discovered favorite network Web sites, thanks to increased on-air exposure and consumers' growing ability to search the Internet for Web sites related to their TV interests, he says.

"People are finding the cable TV Web sites to get more information on what they want: the sports stats, the food recipes, the infomercials, the concert footage, the stock tickers and late-breaking news, and it's creating immediate interaction capabilities in the digital medium," he says.

As more consumers become regular users of the Internet for information, and cable TV sites continue to expand, "the cable networks will get lots of high-quality traffic on their Web sites, translating into consumers spending more time with brands on those sites. My bet is on such online brands that have depth of content, versus the mass coverage approach where you've got wide exposure to a less-specific audience," he says.

The cable TV networks have also led the way in packaging the Internet into multimedia buys for advertising agencies, according to JWT research.

Mr. Finnegan, who is also a member of the online advertising panel for FAST, the digital advertising consortium created by Procter & Gamble, says digital media buying decisions will become increasingly integral to general cable TV media

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