Cable Originals Nip at Broadcast Upfront

Jun 23, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Turner Broadcasting this year gambled that original programs such as “The Closer” on its TNT cable network would appeal to advertising buyers as much as broadcast shows. Judging by Turner’s upfront advertising market sales, it was a winning bet.
Turner Broadcasting ad sales President David Levy followed what he called a “network replacement” strategy, eschewing the normal cable tactics of linking sales of lower-rated off-net repeats to sales of higher-rated originals. Instead, he sold originals including TNT’s “Saving Grace” and TBS’ “My Boys” separately to advertisers who he hoped were hungry to place spots in a TV landscape where broadcast ratings points have grown more scarce.
The result, according to industry sources, was price increases on a cost-per-thousand-viewers (CPM) basis in the 9% to 10% range, with volume increases in excess of 15%. Mr. Levy used the strategy to sell programs including “The Bill Engvall Show” and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne,” and upcoming shows such as “Truth in Advertising,” “Leverage” and “Raising the Bar.”
“Our strength in volume, a majority, came from our broadcast replacement strategy,” Mr. Levy said. “This year we truly were a substitute for broadcast.”
Turner encountered some resistance to the pricing it was seeking early in the negotiations, but by the time negotiations were done, most agencies realized that Turner’s ratings gave it the right to seek the price increases it wanted, Mr. Levy said.
Turner also held to its pricing because money usually spent in the scatter market was shifted to the upfront, intensifying demand.
Because Turner’s ratings have been rising, unlike the broadcast networks’, it still has commercial inventory to sell.
“If there’s a scatter marketplace—and I don’t know if there will be, the economy is certainly in question—but if there is one, we’ll be in a very unique position to have programming, and opportunities and sponsorships and contextual advertising remaining,” Mr. Levy said. “So if the scatter market does happen, we’ll be able to play it.”
Mr. Levy said Turner saw big gains in volume and pricing for its Adult Swim late-night network as well.
Turner also completed sales for its Cartoon Network kids channel, registering price increases in the mid-single digits during high-demand time periods, Mr. Levy said.
He said he saw unexpected demand in the September and pre-Easter periods and was surprised that toy advertising was up, rather than down.
In addition, Turner saw an increase of almost 200% in the amount of digital money it took in during the upfront. More buyers were ready to discuss digital during the upfront time frame, said Mr. Levy, who expects nearly all agencies to be buying digital from Turner in the upfront next year.
(Editor: Baumann)


  1. Thought you may want to send this out.

  2. What plugs are you using to stop spam?I’ve Plenty of spam in the comments on my blog. Cant get rid of it :/. Akismet fails in most cases.

Your Comment

Email (will not be published)