Cable Upfront Begins, Final Take Projected At $9.8B

Following most of the broadcast upfront deal-making, many cable networks have been inking and completing upfront pacts in earnest -- with price increases similar to those of broadcast networks.

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% to 7% -- 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, both up in CPMs and volume, according to media executives.

“The market is okay and grinding along,” according to one senior TV network advertising sales executive, who is witnessing some double-digit upfront volume gains at specific networks.

No word as to where NBCUniversal and USA Network are in the upfront process. NBCUniversal 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 USA schedule of “Modern Family.”

Cable upfront totals are still projected that all ad-supported cable networks -- some 60-plus channels -- could collectively pull in some $9.8 billion in upfront advertising commitments, about a 3% increase over a year ago.

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% and 7%. 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 automotive, which tend to make early deals.

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