Myers Mulls Cable's Upfront


The broadcast networks put their best fall fare forward this past week, and
activity in the annual Madison Avenue bazaar is about to commence.

Veteran upfront-advertising-market watcher Jack Myers, editor of Jack
Myers Reports
, thinks cable is poised for big things in the scramble during
the weeks ahead.

Myers -- who recently revised his cable-upfront projection to a 16% advance
to $5.35 billion -- noted that even if the broadcast portion is especially
robust (he's calling for a 6.7% jump to $8.75 billion in primetime), "cable is
in a solid position, strategically, tactically and in terms of its

Myers added that he may have again underestimated the medium's possible
upfront advance relative to volume.

"The bottom line is that there will be a stronger sell-out level for cable,"
he said, while estimating that cable's CPMs (cost per thousand homes) would
"grow 5% overall, with some networks up and some down. It's a matter of haves
and have-nots."

He said FX, buoyed by original series like The Shield and
Lucky, "should be up significantly," while USA Network and Sci Fi Channel
have "much better stories to tell." Last year, USA laid in a base of dollars by
dropping its pricing.

Myers said Discovery Networks U.S. -- now led by former CBS sales boss Joe
Abruzzese -- wants to extract higher CPMs. "They have good stories to tell with
TLC [The Learning Channel], Animal Planet and some of the smaller networks.
They'll get their revenue [increases], but I'm not sure about higher CPMs," he

Turning to Lifetime Television, Myers said the women's-targeted network would
have to deal with "some ratings erosion."

Myers also believes the Rainbow Media Holdings Inc. networks will do better
because "they've been in the ad-sales arena for another year."

Former Rainbow outlet Bravo should benefit from being in the NBC camp,
according to Myers.

As for Turner Broadcasting System Inc. networks, Myers has them decidedly in
the "have" column, saying, "[Turner Network Television and TBS Superstation]
will continue to be strong, and I have no doubts about CNN [Cable News

Myers maintained that while rival Fox News Channel -- which has surpassed CNN
in the ratings -- will be "very strong," he doesn't foresee it reaching parity
with its rival in upfront commitments.

"The success of Fox will bring more dollars to the [entire news sector]," he