Ad spending on cable is now on par with that allocated to broadcast TV, according to new data from Nielsen.
Ad spending on English-language cable-TV networks came to about $21 billion in 2011, roughly even with ad spending on English-language broadcast networks' $21.1 billion, according to Nielsen, which released the numbers as part of a new report.
The figures mark the first time, according to the market-research company, that cable has achieved parity of a sort with its longtime rival. Spending on cable TV has increased steadily over the last few years, up 42% since 2007.
How did cable achieve its growth? The medium has matured, developing more original, quality programming, and winning greater share of audience. As marketers winnowed down their spend on English-language broadcast TV during the recession of 2008 and 2009, cable continued to increase its ad revenue -- a testament, perhaps, to the fact that its programming aimed at niche audiences is typically significantly cheaper than what airs on broadcast.