Upfront 07

Cable Networks Form Commercial Ratings Commission

Aim to Establish Currency for Upfront Negotiations

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- With just over a week to go before the broadcast networks make their upfront presentations, cable networks have pulled together a dedicated team to determine the best currency for this year's market. The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau today announced the formation of a Commercial Ratings Commission.
CAB CEO Sean Cunningham
CAB CEO Sean Cunningham

The commission's goal, the CAB said in a release, is to help craft "forward-looking standards that ensure commercial ratings can become an accurate, stable and fully understood currency for marketers and advertisers to utilize."

The currency debate
The traditionally currency has been programming ratings, but the over the past year the debate has focused on commercial ratings and engagement metrics as well as the issue of live vs. time-shifted viewing. The upfront is the process of advance buying and selling of prime-time advertising for cable and broadcast TV.

Many industry insiders have predicted the cable upfront will take longer than last year's, with the currency debate remaining so uncertain. Chris Allen, VP-national broadcast at GSD&M in Chicago, said his budgets are still up in the air at this time when normally they're set in early to mid-April.

"It's going to be later than it's ever been in terms of getting a good read, and everyone's trying to hold back more for scatter this year," he said. "Currency debate is certainly top of mind with everybody trying to determine what the currency's going to be. ... We'd be shocked if deals start moving before Memorial Day."

CAB: standards must be adopted
"For commercial ratings to become a part of the buyer/seller negotiation process, on-going leadership from all corners of the television industry will be required," said CAB CEO Sean Cunningham. "As yet, the current commercial ratings data has not been audited. Further, without the adaptation of common standards, the enormity of data could overwhelm existing systems and in doing so offset any advantages found in what many believe could be a more accurate measurement system. The commission will help address these challenges, ultimately aiding in the development of critical early stage standards that will keep the commercial rating initiative moving forward."

Already on board are Marc Goldstein, president-CEO of MindShare; Andy Donchin, senior VP-national broadcast of Carat; Judy Vogel, VP-research at PHD; Robert Liodice, president-CEO, Association of National Advertisers; Michael Donovan, chairman-CEO of Donovan Data Systems; Sara Erichson, general manager-national services, Nielsen Media Research; George Ivey, executive director of the Media Rating Council and Steve Sternberg, exec VP-audience analysis at Magna Global.

Representatives from MindShare, Starcom, Zenith and Horizon have also expressed their desire to participate, with the ad sales chiefs from the CAB's national network board also expected to opt in.
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