Turner Entertainment Group ranked first out of 20 large cable- and broadcast-network sales organizations, according to Jack Myers Reports' 19th annual survey of 200 advertising executives.
Turner jumped from seventh place a year ago.
There were several surprises in the latest survey, which was released last Wednesday, notably Comedy Central's No. 2 ranking — up from 11th a year ago — and Nickelodeon's third-place finish up from 14th. Discovery Networks U.S., which held the top spot last year, fell to No. 4, Myers said.
Comedy's upsurge is "especially notable," Myers said, as the network, with an ad-sales force headed by senior vice president Hank Close, operates as a stand-alone entity without the resources of a large multi-network organization."
A&E Television Networks moved up from sixth to fifth, to round out the top five in Myers online survey, conducted last September.
Assessing groups in this category with $280 million-plus in ad revenues, Myers measured the performance of each network company in six categories, including sales-rep competence and effective upfront negotiations, as rated by scores of senior media buyers and planners at ad agencies and executives at major clients.
The CBS-TV Network and NBC-TV Network, tied at No. 3 a year ago, slid to sixth and seventh, respectively. That put Black Rock in a tie with Turner Sports, ninth last year, and the Peacock in a three-way tie with CNN Networks and ESPN/ABC Sports.
Myers noted that 81 percent of the ad executives met with an ESPN/ABC Sports official this year, followed by 78 percent for Turner.
Fox Broadcasting and ABC-TV plunged from Nos. 2 and 8 respectively to Nos. 11 and 12, according to the Myers survey.
In rating this same group of networks by their research and promotion opportunities, Myers placed Nickelodeon first, up from 16th a year ago. Turner was second under these criterion and Discovery Networks third. MTV: Music Television, ESPN/ABC Sports and Comedy were next — the latter two tied at fifth.
Among 28 networks with under $280 million in ad revenues, Cartoon ranked first up from second a year ago. Rounding out the top five: FX catapulted from 16th last year; Bravo/IFC, up from 15th; Fox News Channel, unranked last year; and The Weather Channel, first a year ago.
Myers pointed out that the buyers' positive responses to FX's and Bravo's upfront negotiating strategies were "a significant reason" for their improved positioning.