Cable upfront on track for 5% decline, only second drop ever

Confirming the soft TV advertising market just exposed by broadcasters, cable networks are wrapping up a 2014 upfront market that's pacing to be around $500 million, or 5 percent, lighter than last year's $9.9 billion haul.

With large network groups including Discovery Communications, Fox Cable and NBCUniversal wrapping up their negotiations with advertisers, Broadcasting & Cable reports that cable networks are set to finish their upfront down from the previous year for only the second time in history.

Estimates also have broadcast down as much as $850 million this year, a decline as much as 10 percent over 2013's estimated $9.3 billion upfront. With the overall economy in the midst of the Great Recession in 2009, upfront spending for both broadcast and cable dropped by 12-14 percent.

Predicting a drop for cable of around 4 percent going into the upfront, the Wall Street Journal attributed the slower business to major advertisers including Procter & Gamble and General Motors shifting dollars away from the cable upfront and into digital media, as well as TV's more a la carte-oriented "scatter" market. 

The soft upfront will undoubtedly impact negotiations between programmers and pay-TV operators, as networks try to sustain their margins with higher affiliate fees. 

For more:
- read this Broadcasting & Cable story
- read this Wall Street Journal story (sub. req.)

Related links:
Cable networks AMC, Discovery, others face hard times, analyst says
WSJ report: Pay TV mergers will trigger media consolidation
Moffett: AT&T-DirecTV deal will get done, but not without regulatory 'perspiration'

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