NEW UPN FOCUS ALREADY PAYS OFF: SUMMER HIP-HOP MUSIC SPECIAL THREE-QUARTERS SOLD TO KEY SPONSORS

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The new TV season doesn't kick off until fall, but UPN already has struck some positive notes with advertisers in its new efforts to target a young male audience.

The struggling network has inked some major ad deals for its upcoming hip-hop music award show "The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards," tied in with Source Entertainment's The Source. Almost three-quarters of the time on its 2-hour summer special has been sold at more than double the unit costs of the network's average prime-time show.

Executives said UPN has been getting $60,000 for a 30-second spot for the show, more than double its $25,000 to $30,000 for an average prime-time :30.

'SOLD LIKE CRAZY'

"It just sold like crazy," said Mike Mandelker, exec VP-network sales, of the program to air Aug. 20. "There is such a major appetite that affiliates want some time back because they are doing so well from local sales."

Nintendo of America, Coca-Cola Co.'s Sprite, Nike and Levi Strauss & Co. are some of the major sponsors for the summer program. Previously, those advertisers spent little or nothing on the network.

"Hip-hop finally is turning a corner in terms of recognition this year," said David Mays, publisher of The Source. "It outsells every other music genre. It has replaced rock as the music of youth."

A YOUNG MALE TARGET

UPN needs "to become a place for that target group [of young males], and they might as well acquire as much programming for that target group," said Tim Spengler, senior VP-general manager of national broadcast at Western Initiative Media, West Hollywood, Calif.

Promotionally, the show will be used to tout the move of UPN's successful young-urban programming, which includes "Moesha" and "Malcolm & Eddie," to Monday nights from Tuesdays.

The demographics for the 10-year-old magazine are similar to the TV show, men ages 14 to 34. UPN isn't giving ratings guarantees because, until the new season begins, the network won't have any other similarly targeted programming to give advertisers should there be a shortfall.

Still, ad executives are expecting a 3 to 5 rating.

NEW PROFILE AMONG ADVERTISERS

Since UPN announced the shift to young male programming from its general-audience target, it has significantly changed its profile among advertisers. For instance, credit card companies have stepped up their buys.

Where the network only had Visa on its roster last year, it has added Novus Services' Discover card and American Express Co. for the coming season.

Computers have signed on, too, with buys from Gateway.

UPN's change comes with some advertising downside, as the network lost some female-oriented consumer products sponsors during the upfront selling period. The net closed the upfront with $140 million in sales, up slightly from $135 million signed the year before, according to executives.

That's considered somewhat of a victory for the network, considering this past

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