NBC, Cable Play Catch-Up, Take Some Upfront Hits

As upfront negotiations continued for the second week Monday, media buyers described a slower pace as NBC looks to join the other major networks by wrapping up business and cable finally gets its chance to be front and center.

Several media buyers said NBC ad sales executives had backed off the "no price cuts" stance that it began with last Thursday, while some cable networks were also said to do some similar backtracking.

"There haven't been any 3 a.m. negotiations, as the pace has slowed a bit and NBC decided to rescind its declaration of no price cutting," said one media buyer, who added that there were expectations that the network could be finished writing business by mid-week.

So far, ABC, CBS, and Fox are all expected to have received CPM increases in the 4 to 6 percent range. Merrill Lynch reported last week that it expects NBC to finish up 1-2 percent in CPMs, after a ratings drop of 15 to 20 percent in prime time.

Meanwhile, media buyers said that even some top-tier cable networks like MTV were likely going to see some struggle through the week.

"Most of the top cable nets will finish up reasonably well, but not particularly strong this year," said one media buyer. "Cable could be finished by next week, along with syndication."



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