Nets gain 5% in GroupM upfront buys


Media agency conglomerate GroupM has agreed to primetime upfront buys for the 2008-09 season with NBC as well as with Disney-affiliated cable networks ABC Family, Lifetime and A&E.

Sources said Monday that GroupM has agreed to buy primetime upfront inventory on NBC for an average overall cost-per-thousand increase of 5% over last season, though it has not yet finalized deals for NBC Universal cable properties Bravo, USA, Sci Fi and Oxygen.

Sources also said that average overall CPM increases agreed to in buys at the three ABC-affiliated networks also were in the 5% range.

A GroupM spokesman denied that any deals have been made. Lifetime also denied that any deals were finalized. NBC and A&E declined comment, and ABC Family did not immediately return calls for comment.

The 5% average primetime CPM increase at NBC would be in the same range that GroupM paid in last year's upfront. Sources said both sides were having trouble agreeing on CPM pricing for the NBC Uni cable networks, with GroupM chief investment officer Rino Scanzoni hoping to hold increases below last year's 8% average increase.

Sources said NBC Uni was holding out for higher CPM increases, based on a feeling there is more money in the cable marketplace than last year and that it is too early to get a read on how ad spending will play out at other cable nets.

"Turner is seeking low-double-digit CPM increases, and the last thing another large general audience cable network wants to do is to sell too low before Turner does its deals," one source familiar with the situation said.

Last week, ABC struck early deals with media agencies Zenith and Starcom, and one observer said it seems like Disney's strategy is to move quickly if it can get the pricing that meets objectives.

Disney owns ABC and ABC Family and has partial ownership of Lifetime and A&E.

John Consoli is senior editor at Mediaweek.