Should Personal Injury Lawyers Advertise on Network or Cable TV?

Personal injury lawyers get a much better ROI on network TV. The advantage of advertising on cable TV is a much lower monthly cost but at the price of a higher ROI.

What’s the Difference between Network TV Markets and Cable TV Markets?

Network TV markets are really broadcast TV markets. I refer to them as network TV markets because it’s more understandable to lawyers.

A broadcast TV market is known as a DMA (Designated Market Area). It is the territory within which people receive the same TV channels. It was originally measured when people had antennas on their roofs. When cable TV companies obtained permission from the FCC to wire up neighborhoods, the FCC kept the original DMAs intact.

Today, a significant portion of people in the United States still receive TV broadcasts through an antenna on their roof. But for those people who do not use a traditional antenna, the FAA mandates that cable TV and satellite providers must transmit local stations and networks to their subscribers (at the option of the TV station). These TV stations are called Must Carry stations.

Comparison of Network TV vs Cable TV

This is best demonstrated by a comparison of two TV shows, Jerry Springer and CNN. Probably the best TV show for personal injury lawyers is Jerry Springer. Jerry Springer is a broadcast TV show. CNN is a cable TV show.

Jerry Springer will do these commercials for free when you sign a one-year contract

The Difference Between Advertising on Network TV vs Cable TV

If you want to advertise on Jerry Springer, your advertisement has to be broadcast to an entire DMA, while an advertisement on CNN can be delivered to a tiny segment of the market. You have to pay for the entire DMA market territory, while on CNN, you can buy a very small market population.

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When you advertise on broadcast TV in Los Angeles, your commercial can be seen by potential personal injury clients everywhere within the blue area in this map of the Los Angeles DMA.

Los Angeles DMA

There are 210 DMAs in the United States and approximately 10,000 cable TV markets. As can be seen, a DMA is substantially larger than a cable TV market. A DMA is the largest type of statistical market. See a list of DMAs and TV stations by DMA.

Leading local cable TV markets in the US by number of direct response spots (personal injury lawyers use direct response commercials)

As an example of size comparison, there are 28 counties in the New York DMA (orange-colored counties on the map below). According to Nielsen media research, the New York DMA has 7,366,950 households with a TV.

One of the 28 counties, Nassau County, has two cable TV markets with approximately 272,000 households in each.

Making matters even worse, a little-known fact is that not every cable subscriber will be able to see your TV commercial. When I advertised on cable TV, I asked Cablevision how many subscribers would be able to see the commercial versus how many would not be able to see it, and they either couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me. They were quite surprised when I asked but admitted that I was right.

Where Should Personal Injury Lawyers Advertise on TV?

Broadcast TV throughout a DMA produces the best ROI. Cable TV is suitable when:

  • a personal injury law firm doesn’t have enough money for a budget on broadcast TV or
  • a personal injury law firm has so much money that enough is spent on broadcast TV, and additional money is available for cable TV
  • you want to advertise on national cable TV (across the US)

Which Channels and TV Shows Should Personal Injury Lawyers Advertise on?

This question is easy to answer. The first priority is the TV show and channel where the most number of personal injury lawyers are advertising. Yes, this is contrary to the thought of many personal injury lawyers who are looking for that one channel where there are no other personal injury lawyers advertising.

On cable TV, the local news channel is a good choice.

Read more articles about advertising for personal injury lawyers
Read more about advertising for personal injury lawyers

Philip L. Franckel, Esq., is the author of this article.

Phil Franckel is the owner of 1-800-HURT-911® and over 1,100 domain names. He is a personal injury lawyer and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the NYS Trial Lawyers Association. He is an expert in branding, advertising, marketing, and SEO. He has been doing SEO since 1994.

Phil Franckel has written and produced TV commercials for lawyers and other industries and has been a consultant to businesses, including several using vanity phone numbers. Phil writes a blog about lawyer advertising at

Phil Franckel began a mail order business in 8th grade, bought and sold coin-operated amusement games in 10th grade, and a used car business in 12th grade through college. After law school, he worked in the wholesale diamond business and part-time for a TV production company. Later, while a lawyer at a large personal injury law firm, he worked part-time for ABC Wide World of Sports and ABC Monday Night Baseball.

Phil Franckel then started a personal injury law practice and is a former member of the Board of Directors of the NYS Trial Lawyers Association.

In his spare time, Phil Franckel became an Aux. Police Cadet in 12th grade and is the Commanding Officer of the Communications Bureau, NCPD Aux. Police Section.

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Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is a member of the Personal Injury Dream Team™; He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client's Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and is a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.