/// Early Stirrings in the Cable Upfront Marketplace

May 28, 2013  |  Media Week

And they’re off! Sort of. Though there’s not been any substantial movement in the broadcast market yet, a few of the cable players are already deep in negotiations. Viacom has worked its way through a handful of agencies, and sources confirmed that NBCUniversal is pushing USA Network’s off-net pickup Modern Family , asking as much as 25 percent over the previous time slot occupant, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. While early chatter has Viacom finished with 60 percent of its deals, rival sales execs claim that the conglomerate has only wrapped business with three major agencies. Given that Nickelodeon controls roughly 75 percent of all kids GRPs, and MTV is a must-buy for movie, video game and tech marketers looking to tap into the 18-24 set, the prospect of favorable rates in exchange for early business is sound … provided that Viacom secures the commensurate dollar-volume increases for which it is surely looking. For USA, Modern Family clearly represents an opportunity to get itself on equal footing with the likes of TBS, which charges princely sums for off-net episodes of CBS’ The Big Bang Theory. It’s probably not coincidence, either, that Turner’s former head of ad sales, Linda Yaccarino , is now running the show over at NBCU and is driving a hard bargain around similar content. There’s also a lot of chatter about NBCU’s full-portfolio network strategy. Even broadcast inventory is potentially in play as the company begins to package its panoply of assets—cable, broadcast and digital—to best suit clients. The Modern Family ask may be a sticking point, however, and folks are finding workarounds. 20th Television, for example, is selling time in the show’s syndicated run on Fox Television Stations, and it also controls inventory for an hour per week on USA. As such, some buyers are trying to backdoor their way onto the cable network via a syndie buy. There’s also some concern that Modern Family has already peaked on ABC. Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data, Season 4 averaged 11.1 million viewers and a 4.2 among adults 18-49, down a steep 16 percent from the 5.0 in the dollar demo the show chalked up the previous year. By comparison, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, the No. 1 scripted series on TV, averaged 16.8 million viewers and a 5.3 rating. TBBT is one of a handful of broadcast shows to actually improve its deliveries during the 2012-13 campaign, growing 11 percent in the 18-49 demo. This in turn has helped TBS put up big numbers with its TBBT repeats —recent episodes have delivered as many as 3.01 million viewers and a 1.4 in the demo. Yaccarino controls an estimated $9.5 billion in upfront ad inventory across the NBCU portfolio, which includes the third-place broadcast net NBC , top-tier nets USA and Bravo, and niche offerings like E! and Oxygen. As of late Tuesday afternoon, Yaccarino was believed to have inked some preliminary deals, but for the most part, client budgets have not been registered

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Early Stirrings in the Cable Upfront Marketplace



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