If These Shows Are Hits, Why Do They Hurt So Much?

As network viewers defect, advertisers may not foot the big bills

To understand the state of play in TV Land, look no further than the kids' market. Normally, the annual negotiations to set ad rates for children's network TV shows wrap up in February, with over 90% of all the ads sold. But at the end of March, as a crush of new channels from WB to the new Fox Kids Network were depressing ratings, many advertisers were still waiting for ad prices to sink lower. "The market is soft. Why should we rush into it?" says Bill Croasdale, president of Western Media International, which buys ads for clients that include Home Depot, Acura, and Walt Disney.

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