Cable: Diamonds in This Year’s Upfront Rough

Aug 12, 2009  •  Post A Comment

By Andrew Hampp
Advertising Age

A few high-rated cable networks and syndicated shows are emerging as diamonds in the rough that is this year’s upfront market, even compared with some of their broadcast competitors.

NBC Universal’s USA and Turner’s TNT and TBS are said by multiple executives to be leading the cable market with the smallest loss margins in pricing, banking average decreases of 2% to 6% in the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers, or CPM. Most broadcast networks agreed to CPM rollbacks in the 1% to 3% range.

The cable upfront is estimated by three executives to be 60% to 70% completed by week’s end, and fully wrapped by Labor Day, with syndication about 40% to 50% wrapped. Volume is expected to be down 10% to 15%, to $6.5 billion to $6.9 billion, from last year’s $7.65 billion.

Like broadcast buyers, cable and syndication buyers are earmarking 10% more of their upfront dollars for scatter this year, betting on healthy fourth-quarter ratings and an improved economy in early 2010. "We don’t believe the inventory’s going anywhere, and if we need to hunker down and hold out, we will," one media buyer said.

"It feels like it will be above upfront pricing by the first to second quarter of next year," another key buyer said.

Top-rated networks at Lifetime, Discovery and Scripps are booking deals at prices down 6% to 8%, while smaller networks are down as much as 10% to 12%. Sports and news networks — which still do a third to half of their deals based on live ratings, vs. the new industry standard of Nielsen’s C3 ratings that measure viewership of commercials within three days — are down anywhere from 5% to 20% this year, based on the same holdouts for scatter.

But Ed Erhardt, ESPN’s president-customer marketing and sales, said he is optimistic that the sports market will see some momentum in the coming weeks. "Scatter is strong right now for us. It’s strong around town," he said. "There’s no question scatter’s a last-minute thing, but the upfront combination of cable, football and multimedia will move about the same time it always does, which is mid- to late August."

Pricing is holding relatively strong on the syndication side, with CPMs down in the 2% to 9% range, led by long-running, top-rated shows such as "Wheel Of Fortune," "Jeopardy" and "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Several executives attributed the market’s comparatively healthy pricing to syndication’s history of consistent ratings. "There’s no reason to believe ratings for the new shows on broadcast are going to go up this year, so you’ve gotta go with what works," one buyer said.


  1. link please :(((

  2. Was looking for this – so I just tweeted your post on our account – thanks

  3. link please :(((

  4. Know whether the site is opened too late.

  5. Thank you for sharing this. We’re always looking for valuable resources to share with clients and my coworkers, and this post is absolutely worth sharing!

  6. Thanks for ones data but I’m acquiring some difficulties seeing images.

  7. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  8. I agree with your thoughts here and I really love your blog! I’ve bookmarked it so that I can come back & read more in the future.

  9. Love the blog here. Nice colors. I am definitely staying tuned to this one. Hope to see more.

  10. Thats great

  11. Preeminent blog, pls contiune your work and keep us update with fresh storys

  12. I really like the colors here on your blog. did you design this yourself or did you outsource it to a professional?

  13. Hello
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful info. Keep up the excellent work.

  14. This is such a fantastic resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing internet websites that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. It’s the old what goes around comes around routine. Regards…

  15. This is the perfect blog for anyone who wants to know about this topic. You know so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

  16. Thanks for the great post, found you site on google and added to my google reader account. Gonna try to keep up with the new posts as much as I can :).

  17. Hello I really like your ideas very much. I noticed your blog on Yahoo and I am confident you will receive many visitors.

  18. Appreciation for the great blog post. I am glad I have taken the time to learn this.

  19. This is the best blog I’ve ever seen in my life! I really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to share your this with everyone.

  20. Cant say I am not suprised by your article. All of them are interested but this one is great.Just keep on!

  21. This is the best blog I’ve ever seen in my life! I really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to share your this with everyone.

  22. Good to be visiting your website again, it has been weeks for me. Well this is the article that I’ve been waiting for so long. As a roofer I would say this is very informative post and I like your post. Regards, excellent share.
    Vancouver Roofing Contractor

  23. Kudos to you! This is a really good blog here and I love your style of writing. How did you get so good at blogging?

  24. This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

  25. in last day i was read a article on your website and i was added a commet and ask a question but you didnt approval my commet. i didnt get my questions answer.

  26. I like this web blog so much, saved to my bookmarks. “To hold a pen is to be at war.” by Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire.


Your Comment

Email (will not be published)