Kids Deal-Making Continues

May 30, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Kids leader Nickelodeon last week said it has substantially completed its upfront sales.

Its key rival, Cartoon Network, completed its upfront sales weeks ago, but Nickelodeon Senior VP of Ad Sales Jim Perry maintained that “patience paid off.”

Mr. Perry said that while Nickelodeon and Cartoon appear to have had successful upfronts, with high-single-digit increases in spending, he couldn’t judge how much growth there was in the kids market as a whole.

In terms of pricing, “We needed double digits in the hard eight [the weeks before Christmas] and the pre-Easter periods. We needed mid-singles in some of the out quarters,” Mr. Perry said. “People were cautious, but in the end they ended up seeing a little more demand than when we started.”

Mr. Perry said Nickelodeon’s sales process was slowed somewhat because it was offering ads in its Nicktoons channel for the first time. “Anytime you bring something new to the market, that can take time,” he said.

Analysts had been worried that concerns about obesity would result in reduced advertising to children by food marketers, but Mr. Perry said the category was up. “Reformulated products continue to come to market,” he said. “In fact, it’s one of the categories that helped drive the market.”

Other strong categories included movie studios that increased their number of kids and family film releases and midsize toy makers.

He added that Nickelodeon and its teen network The N were continuing to make deals in the adult market, with advertisers looking to reach moms and families. Sponsors buying Nickelodeon to reach adults include Microsoft, Chevrolet, Best Western, JCPenney and Kmart. In some adult deals, Nickelodeon is selling jointly with some other MTV Networks. Mr. Perry added that Nickelodeon is also seeing growth in its Internet sales.

ABC Kids Networks said its upfront was nearly completed as well. “[We] anticipate concluding next week,” an ABC spokesperson said. “Overall, dollars and increases are slightly above our plan.”