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Cable Upfront Still in Negotiation Phase

MTV Haggles With Buyers; Syndication Close to Wrapping Up

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- As the Fourth of July fireworks boom tomorrow, one thing media buyers won't be celebrating is the end of the upfront marketplace.
Though cable and syndication sellers are still negotiatng with buyers, syndication is further along and maybe even close to wrapping up.
Though cable and syndication sellers are still negotiatng with buyers, syndication is further along and maybe even close to wrapping up.

Both cable and syndication are still deep into the negotiation stages, though the syndication market is much further along and is close to wrapping up, according to media buyers.

Healthy carry-over from broadcast
Pushing syndication is a healthy carry-over from the marketplace for prime-time-broadcast advertising inventory and syndicators' willingness to adopt "C3" measures that offer advertisers ratings for commercial breaks in exchange for counting viewers who watch programs as much as three days after they air through use of a digital video recorder. The measurement has become widely adopted in this year's upfront, even as certain program ratings show significant erosion.

The most popular syndicated programs are securing high-single-digit percentage increases in the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers, or CPMs, a standard measure in these sorts of negotiations. Other syndicated programs are securing CPM increases in the low single digits. The upfront syndication marketplace is valued at about $2 billion to $2.2 billion, according to media buyers.

Some cable networks, including Lifetime and the Turner, are further along than others and have already closed major deals using the C3 arrangement. The networks have been able to secure CPM increases in the high-single-digit percentage rage. Others, such as the MTV and Comcast networks, are still trying to get buyers to meet them halfway with agreements that would go easier on the outlets, which often have longer commercial pods and may face audience drop-offs, which would affect commercial-ratings guarantees.

No early deals from MTV
MTV and Omnicom Group's OMD media-buying agency have announced deals ahead of the market in the past few years -- last year's was valued at $300 million -- but no word of one has surfaced in this year's negotiations.

One key executive familiar with those previous negotiations said, "When those types of deals were happening, it was just a lot cleaner. It's an important decision for both sides to make sure we get it right. There's such a big variation between program ratings and commercial ratings. ... If anyone thought big, conceptual deals would happen very quickly I think they're kidding themselves."
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