Cable Set for Record Sales in US Upfront Season

29 May 2003

Not to be outdone by their broadcast counterparts, America’s cable TV networks are also on course for a record upfront ad-buying season.

The broadcast upfront largely concluded last week, with spending by advertisers on ads for the fall season thought to total around $9.2 billion (€7.8bn; £5.6bn), a rise of 14% on the previous year’s $8.1bn [WAMN: 23-May-03].

The cable upfront is not expected to finish until mid-June at the earliest but current forecasts for total spending, based on sales to date, are between $5.4bn and $5.6bn – a leap of up to 22% on last year’s $4.6bn.

“It’s our impression there’s a ton of money out there,” beamed Mark Rosenthal of MTV Networks, who described sales as “faster and stronger” than normal.

Such comments quash fears that high broadcast prices would eat into advertisers’ cable budgets. On the contrary, media executives now believe the broadcast upfront was so strong that media buyers could not get all the ads they wanted, fuelling strong cable sales.

“Some agencies couldn’t place all their money down with the broadcasters and we’re getting some of that,” declared David Levy of the TBS and TNT cable networks. Levy also believes advertisers are keen to buy in the upfront because prices are expected to be much higher during the scatter market (ads bought during the season).

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff