Turner Expects to Notch Volume Gains in TV Upfront

Samantha Bee
Amy Sussman/Rex/Shutterstock/REX

Time Warner’s Turner expects to snare a greater volume of advance ad commitments in TV’s annual upfront marketplace, the latest indication that Madison Avenue is placing more emphasis on TV than it has in several years,

The operator of CNN, TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network, among others, expects volume to rise in line with the general market, according to a person familiar with the situation, which the company sees as being between 2% and 4%. It’s hard to draw a direct line from upfront hauls to actual revenue, but Turner, Time Warner’s largest operating unit by revenue, took in $10.6 billion in overall revenue in 2015, with ad revenue increasing 1%, or $43 million, largely due to performance at CNN. In 2015, Turner expected its upfront volume to be flat or lower than what it secured in the previous year.

Like many other operators of TV networks, Turner pressed for higher increases in the rate of reaching 1,000 viewers, a measure known as a CPM that is integral to these annual discussions between advertisers and U.S. TV networks over the cost of commercial time. Turner sought CPM hikes in the low-double-digit percentage range, according to the person familiar with the situation. In 2015, Turner sought CPM increase of around 4%.

Turner did not make ad-sales executives available for comment. The company is known for programs including “Anderson Cooper 360,” “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” (pictured, above), “Ben 10” and “Animal Kingdom,” among others.

Turner won advertiser interest with new emphasis on helping marketers place commercials with more precision through use of various streams of consumer data. And the company found a positive reception for a new effort it is making to reduce the number of commercials it shows on particular networks or certain programs. Turner has announced its intention to cut the ad load on its TruTV cable network and to reduce advertising that appears in a handful of new TNT dramas.

The company saw robust spending from consumer packaged goods marketers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, quick-service restaurants, insurance companies and telecommunications advertisers, according to the person familiar with the situation.

Viacom, CBS, and CW have all moved close to wrapping their upfront sales and also anticipate increases in volume, according to people familiar with the pace of negotiations.