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Disney Sees 20% Gain in Volume for Kids’ Upfront

Doc McStuffins may be able to cut back on her office hours: Walt Disney has notched a greater share of volume of advance ad commitments as part of its upfront sales.

The company, which operates Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD, among other properties, saw advance ad commitments rise by 20%, said Rita Ferro, executive vice president of Disney Media Sales and Marketing, in an interview. She cited robust interest by movie studios as well as a swell in spending by traditional toy companies and new entrants into that arena, as well as a greater amount of interest by advertisers in buying cross-media packages that include traditional TV, video on demand, digital and mobile. Ferro declined to provide an estimate of the volume of dollars the company secured.

Where advertisers eager to court kids and families often place emphasis on a so-called “hard ten” – the weeks leading from late September to  the end of November – more of the marketers catering to the younger set are starting campaigns earlier, she said. “Now you are starting to see spending in the second and third weeks of August, and it goes all the way through Christmastime,” said Ferro, “That’s new.”

Her remarks are the latest indication that the $800 million “kids’ upfront” has been healthy. The market is typically dominated by Viacom’s Nickelodeon and Time Warner’s Cartoon Network, and Disney relies more heavily on sponsorships than traditional ads, making it a smaller player in the process. But Viacom saw the volume of advance ad commitments for its kids’ programming rise about 5%, according to a person familiar with the situation. Time Warner’s Turner, operator of Cartoon Network, anticipates a volume increase of 2% to 4% for its overall portfolio, according to a person familiar with negotiations.

Disney was also able to win increases in the rates it charges to reach 1,000 viewers, a measure known as a CPM that is integral to these annual talks between advertisers and U.S. TV networks over the cost of commercial time. Disney pressed for CPM hikes in the high-single-digit to low-double-digit percentage range, Ferro said – comparable with what it won last year, Ferro said.

Among the programs that were highlighted during negotiations were “Future-Worm,” a series set to debut in August on Disney XD, and “Elena of Avalor,” a new series slated to air on Disney Channel in July that will feature the company’s first Latina princess character.

Disney also sold ad berths in new Disney LOL and Mickey Video apps that were unveiled publicly earlier Thursday, said Ferro. The apps let kids watch sharable Disney content in a safer, walled-off environment that downplays comments and keeps kids separate from content that might be deemed inappropriate or offensive.

 

 

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