Turner Closes Out Upfront Sales Ahead of 2 Broadcasters

Second year as a combined portfolio yields CPM increases

Another upfront sales team is wrapping business before the July 4 holiday, as Turner has completed the majority of its upfront negotiations, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Unlike last year, when Turner finished after the five broadcast networks, the company is crossing the upfront finish line ahead of two broadcasters, ABC and NBCUniversal, which are still working on business.

This was the second year that Donna Speciale, president of Turner ad sales, went into the upfront market with all of the company's brands and platforms—including TNT, TBS, CNN, HLN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, TruTV, Boomerang and Turner Classic Movies—in a single portfolio.

Turner also held its first combined upfront presentation this year, where Speciale told clients that "dayparts are dead" as she touted Turner's data-driven Audience Now product, which replaces demo guarantees with pure, audience-based guarantees, similar to digital programming.   

Turner's upfront business is said to be slightly below last year's, where CPM increases were around 6 percent and volume was flat. Cartoon Network received particularly strong demand from advertisers. 

This was a big year of transition for Turner, as Kevin Reilly, the former head of Fox, stepped in last November to breathe new life into TNT and TBS. He'll certainly have the money to do so: Turner CEO John Martin said last October that those two networks will double their budget for original programming to $1 billion by 2018.