Scatter's Spigot Opens


Buyers said that in some cases the add-ons were subject to new rounds of negotiations, but that many clients got the rate agreed to in earlier upfront talks. "There was some push back from vendors who had begun to feel strength," said the top buyer at a major media shop. "But for the most part they were happy to get the extra revenue and call it a day."

Q4 scatter-price increases, so far, are said to be between 5 percent and 8 percent higher than upfront rates, per buyers. That's in line with the single-digit rate hikes CBS CEO Leslie Moonves told analysts the network achieved in the third-quarter scatter market, which he described as "remarkably good." When asked about fourth-quarter scatter several weeks ago at a Wall Street conference, Moonves declined to provide specifics, but did say he expected CBS to do well.

Sources at two other networks last week described current Q4 scatter activity as robust. One said a number of clients who sat out the upfront were now spending.

Buyers said that auto and retail were two of the more active Q4 scatter categories. General Motors confirmed that it's spending more now than in the recent past. "We've made a significant commitment to getting our message out around 'May the best car win' ad campaign in this quarter," a company rep said. "We are spending more this quarter than we did in last year's fourth quarter, but we also have less brands to focus on. How that translates to next year is to be seen, but we feel our allocations ... adequately support our four core brands."

Buyers and sellers both say it's too early to predict what next year will bring and therefore too early to know if marketers will have an appetite for all the excess inventory in the market this season. One positive sign emerged last week when PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi told Bloomberg that the beverage and snack food giant would boost its ad spending next year after maintaining this year's prescribed spending levels.

That said, most buyers and sellers remain more hopeful than genuinely confident of a near-term turnaround. "I'm encouraged, but not overly so," said PHD's Keeshan. "It will continue to be a trying year, and I think we'll see these waves of high demand and some ebbing throughout the fourth quarter."

As for next year? Fingers crossed.