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Upfronts 2010: Scripps Making Big Gains Slowly in Fast Market - Broadcasting & Cable

Upfronts 2010: Scripps Making Big Gains Slowly in Fast Market

Cable network group turning away money in negotiations with ad buyers
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Upfront

Central: Complete Coverage from B&C

Speed isn't everything for Scripps Networks Interactive during this
fast-moving upfront advertising bazaar.

While many of the other major cable network groups are
finished making deals, Scripps is still negotiating. But the company
appears to be
seeing gains as big or bigger than what has been seen as the top end of
the
market.

"This is a once in a decade marketplace," said Steve Gigliotti,
executive vice president ad sales and emerging media for Scripps
Networks.

Mr. Gigliotti says that buyers are coming to Scripps with
almost 40% more money than in last year's upfront.

"We're not going to be able to take all of that," he
said. "We're arguing with people about how much they have to take back."

In terms of pricing, "we're getting incredible CPM
growth," he said. Though he declined to be more specific, that would
appear to
be somewhat better than the mid-to-high single digits other top cable
networks
are getting, possibly edging into the low double digits.

To be sure, all of cable is having a great upfront.

One buyer estimates that volume for cable could be up as
much as 20%, with top tier networks getting price increases in the
high-single-digit range.

"There's that old saying that a rising tide lifts all
boat. Everyone had a decent upfront," said one senior ad buyer. "They
were
practically tripping over the money."

Prices were a bit higher than expected, the senior buyer
said, which was an indication that "television still works and a lot of
buyers
want to be there."

NBC Universal cable was one of the first cable groups to finish its
negotiations.

"At the end of the day we really did claim the absolute
top of the market for all our networks," said Steve Mandala, executive
VP, Cable
Ad Sales, whose domain includes USA Network, Syfy, Bravo and Oxygen. "We
exceeded our goals pretty substantially on both volume and price. So we
feel
good."

Naturally, executives at Turner, MTV Networks, Discovery,
Fox Cable, and A&E Networks, which now includes Lifetime, seemed
pleased
with their upfront hauls, as well.

Packaged goods remained a strong category for cable, which
was helped by the return of the automakers. At the same time, with cable
networks gaining reach (and viewership eroding on broadcast), categories
such as
movies, quick-serve restaurants and retailers that need to get there
message
out broadly and quickly showed strong significant growth.

In fact, some sales executives were looking forward to
a strong scatter market. The lower margin ad dollars being rejected by
the
bigger cable players is soaking up inventory at the smaller players,
they said,
setting the stage for a tighter market.

And they're also predicting that the 2011 could be just
as good as this year's if the economy shows improvement.

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