Kelly Scott Madison

Increasing the Cable Footprint: Is I+ the Solution?



By: Olga Kopczynska, Media Planner
with contributions from Mel Greve, SVP, Broadcast Director

What is it?

I+ is a partnership between cable providers, AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS and DirectTV that enables advertisers to simultaneously place their TV commercial on 20 ad-supported television networks using one platform. The program is currently live in 20 markets, with the goal of close-to 50 insertable networks in 56 markets once the roll-out is complete. Traditionally, interconnect cable provided advertisers the option to reach all cable households within a given market through a single buy. Additionally, in select markets, Verizon FiOS was rolled into the interconnect buy. However, until the introduction of I+, this option was limited to local cable providers, while satellite and telco homes in most markets needed to be purchased separately and were limited to national advertisers.

The I+ launch began in July of this year and will continue through June of 2012. As a result, cable footprints in I+ markets will increase. For example, I+ will allow the Dallas market footprint to increase approximately 60% from 2011 to 2012.  While the new system is being introduced, I+ is evaluated based on its ability to mirror the schedules and availability of insertable networks of Interconnect cable. Eventually this partnership should create a one-stop-shop for sales, ordering and traffic, making cable television advertising one of the most seamless media outlets to purchase. KSM is currently able to negotiate and purchase I+ schedules through NCC Media and their partners in select markets.

Why is it important?

  • There are currently more than 80 million wired cable, satellite and telco homes in the US TV market
    • Once fully deployed, I+ will add approximately 11 million new homes to this market
  • Ad-supported cable is rapidly increasing its market share
    • I+ will be especially advantageous in the southern and western regions of the country, where low cable penetration had previously been a constraint to some advertisers
  • While achieving reach via broadcast television is becoming more challenging due to audience fragmentation, I+ maximizes cable television coverage, making it more competitive with broadcast television offerings
  • Finally, I+ creates an opportunity to deliver more impressions in local markets, allowing advertisers to reach the largest possible audience

What we think...

I+ is a new opportunity for local, regional and national advertisers. I+ promises eventual ease of buying and increased audience reach to cable TV advertisers. The program intends to provide more efficient and effective coverage by reaching cable, satellite and telco homes with one buy.

However, there are also drawbacks to I+ that must be considered. Currently KSM includes I+ in the consideration set for all clients, however, we ensure that pricing is in line with market cable costs and programming availability is in line with client needs prior to purchase. Additionally, a hold was initially placed on all Direct-TV orders due to reporting concerns, although after additional testing the platform is expected to be reactivated in January, 2012.

KSM will continue to monitor developments and anticipates that the I + partners will work to address these concerns as the expansion of the program continues

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