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Cable Upfront Take Projected at $9.8 Billion

26 Jun, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – Cable networks are following broadcast TV’s upfront deal making, and many are inking upfront pacts resulting in similar price increases seen on those broadcast networks.

In fact, one senior TV network advertising sales executive told MediaPost he’s seeing some double-digit upfront volume gains at specific networks. “The market is okay and grinding along,” he said.

Media buying executives say upfront deals for the biggest cable networks are getting comparable rate hikes, for the cost-per-thousand viewers (CPMs), to that of the broadcasters – 5 percent to 7 percent – with smaller cable channels getting somewhat less. Two of the bigger network groups – Turner Broadcasting and Discovery Networks – are done with the bulk of their upfront deals, and both are up in CPMs and volume, according to media executives.

Cable upfront totals are still projected that ad-supported cable networks – some 60-plus channels are part of the projections – could collectively pull in some $9.8 billion in upfront advertising commitments, about a 3-percent increase over a year ago, says MediaPost.

A few weeks ago, Viacom started its upfront process for its networks – including MTV and Nickelodeon, now finished according to reports – with Viacom tacking on CPM increases of between 2 percent and 7 percent. In return for somewhat lower increases, Viacom gained in dollar volume from specific advertisers.

Viacom typically moves its upfront business early – especially for MTV – gaining advertising business from movie studios and automakers, which tend to make early deals, says Wayne Friedman with MediaPost.

Neither NBCUniversal nor USA Network has clarified where they are in the upfront process. NBCUniversal reportedly has been targeting major package deals for the NBC broadcast network and its big cable channel, USA Network, with significant price hikes, pegged to the start of a rerun schedule of ABC hit “Modern Family” on USA.

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