Cable Upfront Still Surges

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Cable’s advertising upfront continued its surge last week, while broadcasters, at press time, were still waiting for the Madison Avenue dam to break.

Sources on the network and agency side said many of basic cable’s bigger players — Turner Network Television, TBS, USA Network, Discovery Channel and Lifetime Television — could have wrapped up 60% to 80% of their upfront business on Friday.

When all is said and done, some sellers anticipate that cable might increase its upfront take by $750 million to $1 billion over the $5.4 billion the industry recorded last year.

Automotive, the Hollywood studios, DVDs and pharmaceuticals have been the leading categories, with less action on the packaged-goods side, according to sources.

In another sign of cable’s strong run, Magna, historically the last shop to place orders with the medium, was said to be in the hunt last week.

The market kicked off two weeks ago with USA Network as one of the more aggressive sellers, according to sources, laying in increased shares of budgets, albeit at low to mid single digit CPM gains. MTV Networks also set an early pace, capitalizing on the interest of studios, DVDs and other home-entertainment clients to reach its young audience.

MTV is said to have banked some CPM gains in the low double-digits, but packages for some of the programmer’s other services fell into the 3%-4% range.

TBS and TNT have scored CPM gains in the high single digits, according to sources. Overall, sources pegged industry CPM advances in the 6%-7% range.

At press time, word was beginning to circulate that the broadcast might finally ready to write some business. According to one agency source, autos and movie studios were having discussions, with CBS in a lead role. Fox is also said to be near studio deals.

Other observers suggested that some deals could get struck before agency doors were shuttered on Friday.

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