Network Scatter An Expensive Buy

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There will be less money spent for fourth-quarter scatter, according to some buyers, and, due to tight availability, pricing will be ahead of the record-breaking upfront.

"I expect to see 20% increases, at least," one agency buyer said. That figure is down a bit from the 30% increases others had projected.

"There's not a lot coming into the market," OMD Managing Director Ray Warren said, "and the networks need to deliver on their ratings." Warren noted that the Olympics are "very well sold" but not totally sold out and buyer's pockets are bare.

"The networks are 85% sold out," he said, "but some advertisers already have spent 100% of their money."

"Most network dayparts except late night are sold out for September," added Kris Magel, senior VP and group director, Optimedia. "Syndication is cooked, but cable probably has inventory."

As the Oct. 1 deadline for first-quarter options looms, commitments made in the upfront seem to be solidifying.

"Inventory is largely holding," said Jo Ann Ross, president, CBS Network Sales.

"Things are pretty firm," added Wendy Marquardt, president, Verizon Media/Zenith Media Services. "Much as we anticipated, upfront holds have gone to order."

"There's been some breakage," said Warren, "but not to an alarming degree."

Meanwhile, Monitor Plus is reporting an advertising-spending decline for network TV for first half 2003. Despite a 2.8% growth rate for U.S. advertising spending in general, spending on network TV dropped 4.0% to $10.4 billion against $10.8 billion for the same time period in 2002. Some of that clearly went to Hispanic TV, which is up 16%.

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