America's annual TV upfront bazaar opened last week, appropriately teeing-off with the auction of children's ad slots. In what the ad industry hopes is the shape of things to come, prices leapt 15% to 20% above last year.

Viacom president/chief operating officer Mel Karmazin gloated over "very strong double-digit pricing increases", driven less by improvements in ratings performance and more by the product categories initially on offer.

Advertising demand has reached orbital velocity in the entertainment categories, especially child-targeted DVD and video sales, electronics and video games -- all typically commanding higher ad rates than other categories because they require a far higher degree of flexibility in programming schedules.

Viacom's Nickelodeon and Cartoon networks, along with their child-targeting rivals, swept dollars off the floor as the upfront gained momentum. Nationally, children's advertising revenue has grown 5% to 10% from the $750 million spent this time last year.

Said a hand-rubbing Karmazin: "We are more than half done, and we are seeing very strong double-digit pricing increases." Across the kids' TV board in general, estimates are that 50% to 70% of programming inventory already has been sold.

Last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, Nickelodeon pulled in $844.1 million (€709.40m; £470.77m) in advertising revenue and the Cartoon Network grabbed $231.9 million.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff