/// A+E Finishes Upfront Sales With Volume Up 12-13%

August 1, 2013  |  Media Week

It was a good year for ducks. The A+E Networks group saw plenty to quack even without its signature nonfiction programming—strong ratings for scripted miniseries and events like Vikings, The Bible, and Bates Motel have kept regular advertisers happy; but Duck Dynasty remains the company's crown jewel, leading growth across the board for the company. Overall, dollar volume was up between 12 and 13 percent for the upfront. “We had a lot of advertisers who had interest in sponsorships and integrations,” said A+E president of ad sales Mel Berning of what has come to be his flagship show. It's content A&E is proud of—the company has even patented the ubiquitous camo pattern, which Berning sported himself at the company's upfront preview presentation this spring. Berning was cagey about the kinds of CPM increases the company got—”we got the rates that you've been writing about in the market,” he said—but it's safe to assume mid-to-high single digits based on network performance and client retention. Berning said that the group's diversity of viewership means he doesn't package its deals in quite the same way his competitors do. Lifetime, obviously, is focused on women, but History skews heavily in favor of men (a comparative rarity throughout the TV world, in fact). “We're always looking to maximize our share of dollars, so we're always going to package them together, but we're also not going to force an advertiser who's looking for men to put money on Lifetime,” he said. “We're realistic about what the agencies want to accomplish.” The exec also said that the networks saw growth in several key categories—including those that weren't necessarily up in the overall market. Restaurants grew some 11 percent at the cable group, autos gained 15 percent, financial services were up fully 20 percent and entertainment was up 14 percent. The group's big pushes this year are the three-network simulcast of two-night miniseries Bonnie & Clyde, starring Holliday Grainger and Emile Hirsch, and History's Sons of Liberty—a show, as Berning put it, “about the guys down at the bar complaining about taxes,” and what they plan to do about the problem. It's a theme that more than one network is visiting in the near future. AMC greenlit a new series called Turn last week; it's based on the Revolutionary War pop history book Washington's Spies. “We had beer and auto looking at that,” Berning said. There's also been an increase in high-profile scripted programming over at Lifetime

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A+E Finishes Upfront Sales With Volume Up 12-13%

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