Upfront Over For Some -- On To 2010

The upfront is waiting. But, according to many executives, it is actually over.

The thinking is, sellers and buyers have read the market -- and know the score. All that's left is to complete deals. You want numbers? Sure you do.

Here is a one scenario concerning the all-important cost per-thousand-viewer (CPM) prices: NBC will be down 7%; ABC, off 3%; Fox, down 2%; and CBS, off 1%. Who said this? Everyone's got numbers.

Here's another picture: NBC, slipping 10%; ABC, 4% lower; Fox, down 3%, and CBS, at 2% to 3% below last year. Overall volume will be down 10%, 15%, or even 20%.

Want more? NBC Universal Cable might be 15% sold or 20% right now -- all because USA Network has a lot more inventory to move now that it has seen a nice hike in ratings this past year.

How about cable network CPMs overall? Down anywhere from 2% to 12%. Who said all this? Everyone's got numbers.

With a weak market, information flow can be increasingly difficult to pin down. Everyone has an opinion, a guess. That's part of their jobs. Media agencies lay out a number of different scenarios for their clients. Maybe some have changed, yet again, because of the delay.



Now, for the first time in several weeks -- or even months -- pricing doesn't seem to be the most important question. Instead, it's "when" and "what next."

With August approaching, media agencies executives need to get traditional national TV buying completed. There are five to seven broadcast networks to deal with; 60-some ad-supported cable networks, and a handful of syndication companies.

Traditionalists don't like change. But all this is new territory, which will surely change the slow-moving, hard-to-steer upfront like an oil tanker on the high seas.

Here's another interesting development: With this marketplace where it is, some media executives are now looking at next year's upfront bazaar and suggesting it could be another weak affair.

You want numbers? Everyone's got numbers.

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