Wednesday, April 6th, 2011


Life as WE Know it…in 1Q 2011
among W18-49 and W25-54

Source: The Nielsen Company, L+SD. 1Q11 (12/27/10-3/27/11) vs. all prior qtrs on WE tv. M-Su 6p-1a. W18-49 & W25-54 (000s).
Subject to qualifications upon request.

Cynopsis Media presents: 

Upfront 2011 – The Cable



Good morning. It’s Wednesday, April 6, 2011, and this is your this is the first installment of this special five-part series on this year’s Upfront season. 

By Daisy Whitney

The scatter market has been strong, the economy is stable, and all signs point to another increase in ad dollars and pricing over last year’s cable upfront, but there’s still a big overhang surrounding this year’s TV ad selling season. The overhang is football.

The possibility of an NFL strikes looms large in the media landscape. The potential absence of football on TV, for even a week or more, could reverberate throughout the TV network business. Many cable networks stand to benefit if the pro athletes strike because advertisers will need to spend those dollars elsewhere in order to meet their marketing goals.

That’s why a potential strike is the X factor in this year’s upfront – the great unknown. Networks and advertisers are strategizing options now.


Life as WE Know it…on Tuesday nights
Nearly 4 MILLION PEOPLE tuned in to WE tv
for Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?

Source: The Nielsen Company, L+SD, 3/15/11,  8P-1A, WE tv, TP reach, P2+, 1 min qual. Subj to quals.

Strike Options

Network groups from Turner to Scripps to Rainbow Media are gearing up for a possible NFL strike and perhaps even an NBA one too. “We are looking at contingency plans ourselves,” said David Levy, President of Sales, Distribution and Sports at Turner Broadcasting System. “I do carry the NBA but I have entertainment properties and if there is a challenge with NBA or NFL, I would hope to replace that within the Turner family. We have a solution with our targeted networks and programming that resonates with key male and young adult demos such as Adult Swim, TBS, truTV, Conan and MLB Post Season.”

AMC’s strategy will be to tout its lineup of originals, especially because it skews well with young men. The network’s Walking Dead, for instance, regularly scores a 3.5 rating or higher among Adults 18-49, which beats many broadcast series, said Scott Collins, Executive VP Ad Sales for AMC, We TV and Wedding Central. That helps the network in general in the upfront, but also gives AMC a strong position as a replacement for NFL money in the event of a strike, Collins said.

History Channel is another network in the catbird seat, strike or not. “We have the opportunity to attract a lot more male viewers to the History Channel in the fall and we think we can be an important supplier to marketers,” said Mel Berning, Executive VP Ad Sales for AETN. The network’s ratings have been strong all year, which will also likely be attractive to marketers whether football is in or out of the equation. Based on the strength of scatter, the upfront will likely register double digit increases, he added.

Others are simply hoping for a resolution. “We are optimistic that everything will get resolved. We are evaluating a number of alternate programming scenarios to minimize the impact of potential lost games,” said ESPN in a statement.


Life as WE Know it…beginning April 12

Six-time Grammy Award-winner Toni Braxton and her four sisters experience love, laughs…and sibling rivalry.

Five Braxton Sisters.  Only One Spotlight.
Click here for a sneak peek

Premieres Tuesday, April 12 at 9pm | 8c on WE tv

The Economy and MultiPlatform

Looking beyond the pigskin, cable networks expect a strong market, and buyers and ad experts agree. Scatter pricing has registered at a 20% – 30% increase over the last upfront, which itself netted out at 10% higher than the upfront the year before. In addition, more consumers are optimistic about their jobs than they were a year ago, Levy said. Even though the economy was on the upswing last year, advertisers were still wary with budgets and unemployment was still high. To be sure, unemployment remains an issue and oil is expensive, which impacts transportation of goods, but there is more overall optimism than in 2010.

“It is fair to say cable overall will see stabilized growth. However, the distribution will vary network by network,” said Francois Lee, VP and Activation Director at MediaVest. “While the broad reach networks – USA/TBS/TNT – have long positioned themselves as Prime substitutes, they have all seen some ratings challenges of their own this year. On the contrary, many of the mid-tier networks have seen ratings growth including, but not limited to, F/X, History, ABC Family, MTV, AMC, Comedy Central, Bravo and even Adult Swim.”

When emerging networks like ID, Science Channel and BBC America are added to the mix, along with newly-rated networks like IFC, Fuel TV, Sleuth and Chiller, the cable playing field is more leveled, Lee said. As a result, that opens up more alternatives for advertisers.

Bravo, for one, is feeling good. “Bravo is anticipating strong demand in the upfront, based on our ratings momentum, highly desired audience profile, buzzy quality shows and proven results,” said Barbara Bekkedahl, VP Ad Sales at Bravo. There’s momentum too in multi-platform deals that span TV, digital and social, Bekkedahl said. E! also is hanging its hat on multiplatform success, and will emphasize its role as a multiplatform destination for celebrity programming, pop culture commentary and entertainment news, said Chris Ledwith, VP, Advertising Sales for E!.

Another positive sign is that more brands have started to have more conversations about multiplatform advertising programs than a year ago, said Steven J. Gigliotti, President, National Ad Sales and Marketing at Scripps. That’s an encouraging early sign that the economic improvements over the last year will hold. “It’s a bigger number than we normally have at this time of year and my sense is it is going to be an bigger marketplace, and it is going to be a bigger and earlier marketplace,” he said.

TV ad spending has bounced back from the recession, growing 9.7% to $59 billion in 2010, eMarketer said in a just-released report. This year, TV will likely clock in at $60.5 billion, a 2.5% increase. “TV advertising is on course to return to pre-recession levels,” said eMarketer CEO and co-founder Geoff Ramsey. “While the growth of online advertising has been robust, it hasn’t stopped brand advertisers from keeping the bulk of their budgets flowing through TV sets.”


Life as WE Know it…on Sunday nights
The brides are baaaaaack!


Click here for the best Bridezilla freak out moments

Premieres Sunday, June 12 on WE tv

Challenges Remain

Despite the momentum, cable networks do face hurdles. While cable commands more than half of viewership, broadcasters are still able to extract premiums for commercial time even with eroding ratings. “There is a lot of emotion and heat in terms of the price value relationship in broadcast,” Berning said. To combat it, History will emphasize its own growing ratings and its ability to serve as a strong base for advertisers to lay down their ratings points.

Over at Discovery, part of the pitch is that the network group owns most of its programs, which means ad integration is more easily achieved, said Joe Abruzzese, President of Ad Sales, Discovery Communications.

Gigliotti added that one of the issues is how much to sell and how much to buy during the upfront. Advertisers will want to lock in better pricing and inventory during the upfront, but they also like having the flexibility to add more money during scatter. “It could be tempting to sell too much, so you need to know your own ad base really well and what their world is going to look like over 12 to 18 months,” he said.


Smaller networks will focus on their branding messages during the upfront. “There is a niche-ification of content and people construct [media] neighborhoods around their passion points, so we look at that as the places in which our brands live  the engagement quality, the audience quality,” said Evan Shapiro, President of IFC and Sundance Channel. IFC, for instance, aims to appeal to a smart upscale guy who has a particular comedic sensibility, as evidenced by its signature show Portlandia. In 2010, the network added new advertisers in Cheetos, Kraft, HTC, Subway and others. Brand integration will also be a key selling point for IFC and for Sundance, he said.

Look for The Style Network to also tout its branding integration opportunities. In-show product placements, brand extensions, sponsored segments and specially created content will be key for the network, said Heather Davidson, VP Ad Sales at The Style Network.

This Upfront 2011 Special Edition and all future Special Editions from Cynopsis Media are available to read or download after publishing here.

Later —
Daisy Whitney for Cynopsis

Cynopsis Ad Sales:
Mike Farina – Sr. Dir/Business Development & Sales – 203-218-6480 / [email protected]
Classifieds – Trish Pihonak- 203-926-9878 / [email protected]

Member of Interactive Advertising Bureau (iab)

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