Omens Point to Strong Upfront


New York -- Cable networks have become increasingly bullish
in the past two weeks, as executives in various quarters pointed to some good omens
related to the upfront selling season.

The Myers Report, for instance, projected that the
1999-2000 cable upfront would jump by 25 percent, or $700 million, to $3.5 billion, with
cost-per-thousand-homes (CPM) increases of between 10 percent and 20 percent. That's
somewhat below the $3.8 billion upfront anticipated by Discovery Networks U.S. and others.

The "Big Four" broadcast-television networks,
meanwhile, should see combined primetime-upfront volume grow by 5 percent, or $300
million, to $6.3 billion, with CPM increases ranging from 10 percent to 15 percent, Myers

Myers added that the three newest TV networks (The WB
Television Network, United Paramount Network and Pax TV) should total $635 million, up
$165 million.

In other upfront-related developments:

• The broadcast-network-television primetime-upfront
negotiations were due to begin in earnest this week, amid indications that several
pre-upfront deals were in the works -- some involving TV networks and some cable --
industry sources said.

• In hopes of influencing key ad agencies' media
planning before the upfront breaks, Turner Broadcasting Sales Inc. sent out two sets of
letters earlier this month -- one to media buyers, and an executive-summary version to
their bosses.

Both labeled as misleading the broadcasters' new Nielsen
Media Research "Quad Analysis," which reports that broadcasters' viewers are
more loyal and attentive than cable's.

TBSI questioned the assumptions made from the data and
pointed out that Nielsen's study was designed to be a programmer's tool, and not a sales
tool. Moreover, TBSI wrote, the conclusions drawn from the Quad study represent "an
attempt to arrest the shift of client dollars from broadcast to cable."

• The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau projected
that given cable networks' strong 20.5 percent first-quarter ad-revenue growth, they stand
to record "their largest-ever collective gain" in ad sales.

Based on its analysis of Competitive Media Reporting data,
the CAB predicted that the networks will finish the year up 29 percent, or nearly $2
billion, to $8.6 billion.

"At this rate," CAB president Joseph Ostrow
added, "cable-network ad revenues alone will easily top the $10 billion mark" in