Cable Upfront Could Be Up 25%-30% in 2010

Massive ad spending continues; could reach $8.7 billion

The cable upfront ad marketplace has proven to be as strong as broadcast’s. By the time it’s done, cable could pull in 25 percent to 30 percent more dollars than last year, and reach a cumulative total of $8.3 billion to $8.7 billion, individuals familiar with the negotiations told TheWrap.

Not only are the cable networks seeing 8 percent to 9 percent price increases over last year, but as with the broadcast networks, they are selling between 15 percent and 20 percent more inventory.

Additionally, some media agencies held money back from the higher-priced broadcast networks this year and moved more money into cable.

The largest cable networks, Turner (TBS, TNT, truTV), Discovery Networks (Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel), A&E Networks (A&E, History Channel), Lifetime and Comcast networks (E! Entertainment, Style) all joined NBC Universal’s cable networks (USA, Bravo, Oxygen and Syfy) in completing their upfront selling.

NBCU completed its cable upfront selling in conjunction with its NBC broadcast sales last week, with 9 percent increases.

Deals for Turner, Comcast and Lifetime averaged 9 percent increases, which is on par with the top broadcast deals.

The other networks were said to be in the 6 percent to 8 percent increase range depending on programming packages.

The Viacom cable networks (MTV, VH1, BET) still have not completed their upfront sales, nor have ABC Family, Food Network or Hallmark Channel.

Coming on the heels of a primetime broadcast upfront that was up about 20 percent over last year, the amount of dollars in the TV ad marketplace are just massive. Individuals familiar with the NBCU cable negotiations said those properties cut off selling in order to save enough inventory for the scatter market.

Clearly, some of those unspent dollars benefited other cable networks.

"We experienced very strong demand for our inventory," David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports, Turner Broadcasting System, said in a statement. "Clients continue to value the brands and programming foundation we have built, as well as our ability to develop integrated marketing partnerships that deliver value for their marketing messages."