Upfront 07

Can Last Year's Upfront Pace-setter Support All Its Platforms?

Road to the Upfront: MTV Networks

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Believe it or not, the TV upfront is right around the corner, and Advertising Age is here to help you keep track of the players in both broadcast and cable. This week we look at MTV Networks.
Hank Close, president-ad sales, MTV Networks
Hank Close, president-ad sales, MTV Networks

The players: MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central

Key execs: Christina Norman, president, MTV; Brian Graden, president-entertainment, MTV Networks; Sean Moran, senior VP-ad sales, MTVN and Logo Group; John Shea, exec VP-integrated marketing, MTV Networks music group; Hank Close, president-ad sales, MTV Networks.

The ratings game: MTV remains the No. 1 network for reaching persons 12-34, but dropped 10% in 2006 among adults 18-49 during prime time compared with the year prior. VH1, meanwhile, saw a 14% bump in the same demo and daypart to 681,000 total viewers, citing major ratings boosts from reality shows such as "Flavor of Love 2" and "I Love New York."

What you'll hear: MTV has been the top channel for reaching the 12-34 age group for 37 consecutive quarters, and accounted for five of the top 10 cable series for that demo in 2006. Comedy Central is a similar sweet spot for young men 18-24, among whom it ranks No. 1. VH1 also reached its highest levels of viewership in 2006, with significant increases among adults 18-49 and the top-rated show on cable for the demo with "I Love New York." VH1 is also leading the networks in their efforts to engage viewers during commercials with a series of programming-based pods called "Showstoppers."

The digital play: MTV Networks has MTV Mobile, MTV Online, Comedy Central's streaming video player and VH1's V Spot, among other successful off-network initiatives.

Last year's upfront: MTV set the pace for deals in last year's upfront with a headline-grabbing $300 million deal with OMD. And despite ratings fluctuations, all three networks saw incremental increases in ad revenue for 2006.

The buyer's verdict: Peter Knobloch, president of R.J. Palmer, applauds the MTV Networks' stronghold on the younger demographic, but worries it may have too much inventory across too many platforms to ever really sell out all properties. "The value of each one of those units is so strong and the impressions and audience they're generating is so big within that group. I don't think there's enough money in the marketplace [to support them]."
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