PRE-UPFRONT TALK PUTS NBC ON TOP: BUYERS SAY NETWORK STANDS TO GET CPM INCREASES OF MORE THAN 10%

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As syndicators last week put the finishing touches on their $2.2 billion upfront marketplace, advertisers and agencies started to talk in earnest about strategies for the $6 billion-plus network TV upfront.

With NBC scheduled to make its fall line-up presentation to advertisers and agencies in New York today, there is considerable speculation-and, perhaps, some "posturing" by buyers-as to how much the Peacock Network will want in cost-per-thousand viewers increases.

"NBC, by virtue of its dominant position, will control this upfront," said one media buying executive. "CBS and ABC hope NBC will come out looking for 15% to 18% increases. If they do, ABC will slide in with 14% increases and make its nut."

SATISFIED AT 11%

Few buyers think NBC will close that high. "I've heard that NBC will be satisfied, on average, to write 11% increases, and Fox 9%," said one buyer. "If that's true, I think ABC will be hurting."

ABC, according to most buyers, is in the most precarious position.

"They come from the highest base, and they're down in" the key demographic of viewers 18-to-49, said another media executive on the buying side. "If NBC is reasonable, and I think for the most part they will be, then Fox slides in great, CBS has its broader, older demos, and WB and UPN are targeted niches. It will be inter-esting to see how creative ABC will get."

Another buyer said he believes ABC will try to tie a lot of buys to "NFL Monday Night Football," "Home Improvement," and the new Disney block on Sunday, not-ing, "Those are its real premiums." ABC executives were unavailable to comment.

Still unanswered is how much money is in the marketplace. Some buyers have yet to close deals with syndicators "because the prices have just been too high," said one buyer.

For example, the popular Rosie O'Donnell daytime talk show, from Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, was asking for a $15 CPM, about double the show's current CPM. And the venerable "Oprah Winfrey Show" from Cam-elot Entertainment Sales was selling for a CPM of between $14 and $19.

18% iN DAYTIME

Dan Cosgrove, president-media sales for Eyemark Entertainment, the syndication wing of CBS Enter-prises, said that daytime syndication increases ranged from 15% to 18%, and that the rest of syndication likely ran in the 10%-to-12% range.

"I think a lot of business wasn't written because many of the syndicators, fueled by the talk of a very strong network upfront, are con-tinuing to hold out for high prices," said one top media buyer.

The cable upfront continued to percolate last week as well. Notably, media executives said, CNN was unable to come to terms on deals with Procter & Gamble

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