Road to the upfront: Time warner 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 is the second in a weekly series.

The players: Time Warner's entertainment nets TBS and TNT

Key executives: Mark Lazarus, president, Turner Entertainment Group; David Levy, president, Turner Broadcasting Sales and Turner Sports; Linda Yaccarino, exec VP, Turner Entertainment ad sales and marketing

The ratings game: In 2006, TNT fell to No. 2 (behind USA) in prime-time ratings for adults 18-49 and total viewers. Also in prime time, TBS' comedy lineup continued to rank higher than Viacom's MTV and Comedy Central among 18-to-34-year-olds during the same daypart in 2006. Meanwhile, Court TV enjoyed the strongest ratings year in its history.

What you'll hear: TNT and TBS are the fifth- and sixth-ranked networks in terms of reach. TNT's "The Closer" became ad-supported cable's No. 1 original series of all time in households and total viewers in its second season. TBS has a hit with its original comedy "My Boys."

The digital play: Turner launched a new dedicated broadband site, Super Deluxe, that hosts subversively humorous content for the 18-to-34-year-old demo. Also, TNT now has Dramavision at

Last year's upfront: Turner turned several of its upfront deals into branded entertainment: TBS' microseries "Lovebites" was made in conjunction with Unilever, and TNT's "Change of Plans" was sponsored by Chase.

The buyer's verdict: Peter Knobloch, president of R. J. Palmer, lauded Turner's Mr. Lazarus. "He's in a position to serve the marketplace a little differently than some of the other heads of networks. To a large degree they're one of the more aggressive sales operations out there. If they do things the way they've historically done them, they'll be bullish, go in early and write a bunch of business."
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