Cable upfront sales brisk

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Major cable networks have been briskly selling upfront ad inventory in the past two days, with significant 12% to 17% price increases, cable advertising executives said. Turner Broadcasting System claimed 70% to 80% of its inventory will be sold by the end of the week. Media buyers, however, believe Turner will more likely be only 50% sold by the end of the week, with average price increases in the lower end of the double-digit range. Turner executives also said each of its existing clients has boosted budgets some 20% to 50%. Lifetime Television executives reportedly have sold about half of that cable network's inventory. Discovery Networks has done deals as well, said Bill McGowan, exec VP-advertising sales. Still, not all cable networks--or all agencies--are in the market yet. A handful of agencies are doing deals, including MediaCom, MindShare USA, and B Com3 Group's Starcom and MediaVest. "You have to do something for your client in the wake of a possible strong [network] market," said one media agency executive. "So you hopefully do some early deals at cheap prices." Another executive didn't understand the rush to buy much cable right now--especially with the bigger broadcast network presentations set to begin next week, and their upfront market soon to follow.

Copyright May 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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