Bear Stearns eyes TV upfront


Bear Stearns Cos. Inc. last week issued a report that was bullish on the broadcast networks' upfront outlook and said the expected pricing and CPM (cost per thousand homes) gap between broadcast and cable will remain "into the foreseeable future."

That gap "will only narrow with select cable networks," the report said, but "for cable in the aggregate, it could even widen."

Observing that "CPM parity will become increasingly common when comparing specific broadcast and cable shows," Bear Stearns said, "it is still a long way from becoming reality for an entire cable network versus one of the Big Four."

Many marketers in pursuit of large audiences continue to see broadcast's prime time as "the most efficient buy," the firm said, and they continue to find buying cable networks "more complex and time-consuming."

Bear Stearns' Raymond Katz and Victor Miller estimated the 2003-04 TV upfront at $8.6 billion, up 5 percent from $8.15 billion. (Other industry sources put last year's market closer to $8.3 billion.)

They also estimated that CPMs will climb an average 9 percent, with CBS and NBC leading on the high end and ABC and UPN at the low end.