After a strong broadcast upfront, the cable market is booming, particularly when it comes to volume.
Market sources estimate that the cable will be at least 15% higher than last year, bringing the total volume of advertising commitments to $9.4 billion, a record that would also eclipse the size of the broadcast total for the first time. Some large cable groups had volume increases in the 20% to 25% range.
Price increases have varied from network to network, but ranged from high single-digit gains on a cost-per-thousand viewers (CPM) basis, or just below the lowest broadcast hikes, to advances in the high teens, on par with the best the broadcasters garnered.
Cable sales executives said they thought that some of the added money might have come from broadcast, where the networks were aggressive about getting price increases in the double-digit range. Money also shifted among the cable groups as some insisted on robust rate hikes.
Turner Broadcasting moved early doing deals with most of the major agencies at 12% to 13%. In addition to getting increases, Turner managed to raise prices for its reality channel TruTV to levels similar to those for its more established TNT and TBS, sources said.
Similarly, NBCUniversal's cable group was diverting money from advertisers with low base rates who were looking to spend on USA Network, buyers said. NBCU often was able to steer that money to other channels in its portfolio. That would help USA raise its average CPM, while helping the entire group meet its revenue goals.
Discovery Networks was looking to funnel the high volume it was seeing into Investigation Discovery, which has seen a huge audience lift since the last upfront. Sponsors were also being encouraged to put money into Science, Military Channel and the new Velocity. Because it has large multi-year commitments from major advertisers and its viewership fell short of expectations, there were few OWN rating points available for sale.
The high volume was also said to be helping A+E Networks, which has a big winner in History and a turnaround situation in Lifetime.
Buyers said that some of MTV Networks channels -- such as VH1 and Spike --were getting rates on the low end of the range, while Comedy Central achieved double-digit gains.