Cable's General Upfront, Kids' Buying Wind Down


Cable networks were poised to wrap not only the general upfront last week, but the kids' market as well.

"We're pretty much done," said Turner Broadcasting Sales Inc. spokesman Jim Weiss last Thursday. "Calendar deals are next."

Turner executives believe cable's upfront take rose "10 percent to 15 percent," he added.

E! Networks, ESPN and Comedy Central were among other programmers said to be done or near the end of their upfront sales efforts.

In the kids' sector, where the combined broadcast and cable upfront market began last April, industry sources also said the finale was at hand.

"We're now negotiating the final large pieces of the upfront remaining," said Turner executive vice president of cartoon sales Kim McQuilken.

Figuring that Turner began last Monday at 70 percent sold, he estimated that the upfront would reach a 90 percent sell-through level by last Friday.

"We'd expected a flat market going in but there's definitely some growth — 5 [percent] to 7 percent in the kids' market," more so in cable than broadcast, said McQuilken.

Cartoon Network enjoyed "a robust upfront," and "showed cost-per-thousand growth in the mid-to-upper-single digits," he said.

Movies, home video and video games were strong categories. Cartoon sold some cross-media packages that included the Web and broadcaster Kids WB, he said.