McGowan: Cable Upfront Up, Broadcast Flat

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Discovery Networks U.S. executive vice president of ad sales Bill McGowan
weighed in Wednesday with his latest cable- and broadcast-upfront
projections.

He forecast that basic cable will grow to $4.5 billion from $4 billion last
year, while the broadcast-television networks will hold at $7 billion.

Cable's gain of $500 million, or 12.5 percent, will translate into a 39
percent share of the total upfront volume, up from the year-ago 36 percent, he
said during the annual Discovery Networks U.S. press briefing at the Rainbow
Room in Manhattan.

This will bring cable somewhat ahead of the 38 percent share it had attained
in 2000-2001 before the 'seismic shift' in the marketplace that occurred last
year due to a confluence of factors -- or 'national television's version of 'the
perfect storm' -- from the collapse of dot-coms and the overall economy to
agency consolidation and an ad-spending rollback in the wake of the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks, he added.

This year, he said, will mark 'the death of the traditional upfront as we
have known it,' as more control goes into the hands of the clients.

Those clients' emphasis on enhancements and on targeting rather than 'boxcar
ratings' will, he added, result in a 'shift from price to value' in upfront
negotiations.

Consequently, there will be 'a transition to . a year-round upfront' and away
from the historical concentration within May and June, McGowan predicted,
adding, 'For the first time, cable is going to lead the market.'

At the outset, the upfront will move slowly, before developing a more
moderate pace and 'eventually . a surge in activity,' he said, although he could
not say just when (in 2003) the latter phase would occur.

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