Strong Ad Marketplace Carries Over Into Cable — and for Conan

Turner networks TNT, TBS close to halfway sold at hikes aveaging 9%

The strong advertising upfront marketplace is carrying over from broadcast to cable, with Turner networks TBS and TNT both closing primetime deals at price increases averaging 9 percent, individuals familiar with the negotiations told TheWrap.

That's on par with the high-end rates broadcasters got.

What's more, demand for Conan O'Brien's new late-night show on TBS is so strong that while O'Brien is not getting the same rates as NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman," the pricing TBS is getting "is close to parity," individuals familiar with those negotiations told TheWrap.

Turner, which has been trying to position itself among the broadcast networks — even moving its upfront presentation into the same week with the broadcasters — has been quietly doing deals since late last week, pretty much after Fox became the first broadcast network to complete its upfront negotiations, the individuals said.

Each network is close to half way sold out of its upfront inventory.

Turner's other cable network, truTV, formerly Court TV, is also doing deals based on high single-digit increases, the individuals said.

As for O'Brien, media buyers will get ratings guarantees based on the pricing they pay in the upfront, so they will be protected. But the feeling inside of Turner is that while NBC and CBS may have more household reach than TBS, Conan has a passionate, core audience that they believe will follow him from NBC to TBS. So they are willing to take a harder line on pricing.

What's helping drive interest in Turner's networks also is that each offers a distinctly different brand or targeting audience with TNT focusing on drama, TBS on comedy, and truTV offering trial coverage during the daytime and reality programming at night.