Cable nets poised to begin upfront deals

Broadcasters close to wrapping up

Some of cable’s big guns including Turner Broadcasting are poised to start cutting upfront deals late this week, although Viacom surprised the competish by jumping in early.

The cable group led by MTV Networks had wrapped up as much as 75% of business by the end of last week, according to industry sources, and is moving to a quick finale. It’s agreed to temper rate increases in exchange for volume and share.

Among the Big Four nets, Fox is expected to wrap up its dealmaking by the end of this week. CBS, which had pushed hard for double-digit CPM hikes, is seeing instead high single-digit increases in a generally robust upfront market that’s moved quickly since Memorial Day with healthy CPM gains for the strongest networks.

The Big Four broadcast nets, the CW and major basic cable channels are vying for about $20 billion in ad coin. Broadcast is expected to take in some $9.5 billion and cable about $10 billion when the process is completed, likely within the next week or two.

Fox and ABC kicked off the selling last Thursday with movie studios, automakers and telco among the active categories. Studios are always among the first to go in and tend to pay a premium for flexibility around release dates and to claim certain time periods, like Thursday nights ahead of the weekend moviegoing period.Fox is seeing CPM increases in the high single digits. At ABC, rates are up in the 6%-8% range. Networks all declined to comment on the status of negotiations but industry insiders figure the Alphabet is about 50%-60% sold.

NBC is well into doing business at this point although lagging its broadcast rivals with mid-single digital increases. NBCUniversal’s big stable of cablers is in pre-deal mode, having active conversations.

CBS is moving along, about 20%-30% done, industryites estimate, with average increases in the high single digits. The Eye has made bold stands for double-digit increases, which it has commanded in some cases but not across the board, sources said.

A person close to the process at Viacom said the cable nets are so far getting CPM increases of about 6% , a number that surprised several industry players who figured on a more modest increase to move so much so fast. The number doesn’t include ratings-challenged Nickelodeon, which goes to market later.

Although the Spanish-lingo market usually moves later, Univision is about 40% sold. A big chunk of that is from a deal announced in May, before the upfront presentations, with media buying agency Starcom USA’s Tapestry subsid.