July 19 (Reuters) - Advertisers could cut their spending on cable networks by 4 percent as part of a trend that is shifting ad dollars to the Internet, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The newspaper on Friday cited Procter & Gamble, the largest U.S. ad-buyer, and General Motors among the companies scaling back their television advertising.
The Journal cited sources familiar with the situation as saying the amount of advertising dollars committed to cable networks in this month’s advance ad-selling season known as the “upfront” would be 4 percent lower than last year. Analysts and industry executives had previously expected an increase of as much as 5 percent and such a downturn would be the biggest decline since 2009.
The report said Comcast Corp, which owns NBCUniversal, was an exception to the downturn as it increased its ad dollars compared to last year’s “upfronts.”
While cable networks had been strong in overall television ad business, those owned by media companies such as Time Warner , Walt Disney Co, 21st Century Fox and Viacom Inc have suffered sagging ratings lately.
The cable cutbacks reflect a shift of advertising money to digital media, although the move is relatively small so far, the Journal said.
“Digital has finally begun to take a bite out of national TV budgets,” said one media buyer.
Advertisers also are concerned about the state of the U.S. economy and executives and ad buyers said some companies did not buy in the “upfronts” because they want to wait before committing, the Journal said. (Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Rosalind Russell)