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Time Warner’s Turner Near Upfront Finish as Cable Market Hovers Around Flat

Time Warner’s Turner unit of cable networks is nearing the completion of its upfront sales, according to a person familiar with the situation, as the overall cable marketplace for ad inventory sold against coming programs appears to be hovering around flat to a few percentage points up.

Turner expects CPM increase rates to come in around the upper end of the market, this person said. Excluding NBC, which has been securing increases in the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers around 7% or more, the higher end would seem to be around 5% or 6%, according to media buyers and other people familiar with the pace of negotiations. Turner sought CPM increases of between 7% and 8% in last year’s market for its entertainment-focused networks.

Turner expects its volume to also match performance at the upper end of the market, where executives see flat performance or perhaps a rise of between 2% or 3% to be the norm. In 2013, Turner secured an increase in volume.

Turner runs such cable entities as TNT, TBS, TruTV and CNN. Volume of ad dollars for the individual networks could not be immediately learned, but TBS secured approximately $917.7 million in ad revenue for all of 2013, according to data from SNL Kagan, while CNN took in about $293.2 million. Last year, Kagan forecast TNT would take in over $1 billion in advertising revenue. Not all of this money is committed during upfront talks; sometimes, advertisers hold back money to spend on scatter, or advertising purchased much closer to the date it actually airs.

The Time Warner unit moves to finish in what has been a more difficult market for networks, as advertisers offered less money for ad support and looked more seriously at new digital-video options.

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