Turner Ups Upfront Ante, Adopts Commercial Ratings As New Currency

The cable upfront market received a tailwind Tuesday as the Turner entertainment networks began writing business at a steady pace, notably with deals done based on the so-called C3 currency.

While some cable networks have shown a reluctance to use the new currency which covers commercial ratings and three days of DVR viewing, Turner executives had indicated they were at least open to it. And when buyers pushed for it, deals followed suit for TNT, TBS and Court TV starting Tuesday morning.

One possible reason for Turner's openness: Confidence that new tactics such as comedy shorts known as "bitcoms" leading into commercial breaks on TBS can hold viewers.

Some Turner upfront agreements, however, were being done based on the traditional program ratings. Turner's deals were being made with CPM increases said to be in the same high single-digit ballpark as the broadcast networks.

Both TNT and TBS have recent successes to help spur buyers' interest, with strong recent premieres of "The Closer" and Tyler Perry's "House of Payne," respectively. "The Closer" is in its third season, while "Payne" just debuted.

Turner is selling the soon-to-be-renamed Court TV in the upfront for the first time after parent company Time Warner took over full control.



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