Now that broadcast networks have begun to write business in TV’s annual “upfront” market, cable players are preparing to join the fray. Executives at Time Warner’s Turner suite of cable networks believe there’s an opportunity for volume gains in the 2014 upfront market, when U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming season.
Cable TV surpassed $10 billion in ad commitments in this year’s upfront negotiations for the new season of programming, once again topping broadcast primetime, according to the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau. But growth is slowing, with ad-supported cable networks adding just $400 million to last year’s total.
While there’s not been any substantial movement in the broadcast upfront market yet, a few of the cable players are already deep in negotiations: Viacom has worked its way through a handful of agencies, and sources confirmed that NBCUniversal is pushing USA Network’s off-net pickup Modern Family, asking as much as 25% over the previous timeslot occupant, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Some in the cable sector are seeing disheartening numbers just as the upfront is about to get under way.