As upfront deal-making moves into the early innings, a top cable executive expects a strong market, but with slower pricing increases than the past two summers. In turn, that might lead networks to sell less inventory.
“A little bit of a moderation after two strong years,” said Scripps Networks Interactive CFO Joe NeCastro.
Scripps, with Food Network and HGTV, has traditionally sold about half of its inventory -- par in the cable realm. (The broadcast networks go considerably higher.) Last year, however, it sold more to take advantage of the heated market.
Speaking at an investor event, NeCastro did indicate that market trends look positive, with scatter pricing up in the single-digit range over levels in the spring of 2011.
Separately, NeCastro said Scripps has been paying attention to YouTube’s efforts to launch online channels -- notably the food-oriented outlet led by former Food Network executive Bruce Seidel, although it doesn’t perceive an immediate red alert.
HUNGER, from Ben Silverman’s Electus studio, is scheduled to launch July 2. Last week, it announced its programming lineup, which includes a show from Duff Goldman, who hosted “Ace of Cakes” on the Food Network for years. He will also help with talent and programming at HUNGER.
The YouTube outlet will launch a show with Urbanspoon.com, where bloggers will help craft a show around culinary discoveries nationwide. One weekly series, “Casserole Queens,” is set at the Austin, Texas eatery of two best friends specializing in comfort food. Another weekly series, “Brothers Green,” focuses on two musician-caterer brothers in Brooklyn facing a challenge each show.
Speaking broadly about YouTube and other Web efforts, NeCastro said the company spends about $500 million a year in programming, while Web ventures will be spending considerably less.
“We also think we have opportunities to build video businesses that are more engaging but in a better environment … food-specific or lifestyle-specific,” he said.
Also, talent or formats that break out on YouTube could move to cable for broader reach; YouTube could become a version of a farm system. At the same time, food or other lifestyle-oriented content could increase interest in the genre.