/// 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

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Early Stirrings in the Cable Upfront Marketplace

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