Upfront Surprises: The CW Sells Well, As Do Bigger Networks

Surprised by how the CW fared this upfront period?

Not everyone is. For all the bad press the network got, one thing was always clear: it always stuck to its niche marketing premise of targeting young women.

Even with a 20% reduction in its ratings, there was no doubt advertisers still recognized the CW was one of the few places to go to get this audience. So this upfront the CW commanded 7% to 8% cost per viewer [CPM] increases -- more or less the same increases as other networks.

All this means traditional national TV advertisers aren't ready to abandon CW for the Internet -- where, in theory, all its viewers have run. The same could be true of any seemingly young traditional TV viewers, for, say, MTV's band of networks.

While a case could be made for MTV not capitalizing on buying MySpace or YouTube, the network still seems to have a thriving business radiating from its traditional TV place -- that old, once-renegade platform called cable TV.

Years ago, in the mid-'90s, John Popkowski, who then headed up MTV advertising sales, proposed a take-no-prisoners upfront price plan. Instead of asking for continued modest price increases from advertisers in response to lackluster ratings on the network, Popkowski asked for steep, eye-opening double-digit increases.

Popkowski's gamble? That young-skewing TV advertisers -- movie studios, video games, soft drink companies -- would not abandon the lone medium of a TV network that catered to a niche audience which was so difficult to get anywhere else. The plan worked.

The CW wasn't as bold -- but still successful. In contrast, look at the bigger picture. Consider what the more established broadcast networks have done this upfront period -- those networks which target 18-49 and 25-54 viewers, some of the biggest demographic groups around.

The better question is, how did they get 8% to 10% CPMs increases -- when you can seemingly get those viewers almost anywhere?

Once you answer that question -- then consider the CW



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