Burnett buy kicks off kids upfront market

Leo Burnett kicked off the kids upfront market last week with a multi-client buy on Nickelodeon, which media buying sources estimate came in at least 15 percent, and perhaps 30 percent, over last year’s levels.
Buyers said the level of activity has already hit a hectic level. “It’s uglier than a toad in mud season,” said one New York buyer who is finalizing his deals with the cable and syndication plans on his desk. Sources estimate the value of the kids upfront will peak at around $800 million this season.
The broadcast networks aren’t expected to move their business until April, and Disney and Fox are expected to hold out until then as well, agree buyers involved in the kids marketplace.
Nickelodeon is definitely blazing a path toward the dotted line among the cable network and syndication players of the kids market, asking for–and in some cases getting-CPM increases north of 30 percent and up to 70 percent.
The Burnett deal, which involved McDonald’s, Kellogg, Nintendo and Mrs. Smith’s, came in somewhere between 15-30 percent higher over last year’s prices, judging from the estimates floating around the buying community.
One New York buyer said that while Nickelodeon will come down from its bullish requests on CPMs, the network is not being flexible in breaking up its programming packages. “There’s tons of action with Nickelodeon,” said the buyer. “But there’s no sampling, you have to buy through all their packages.”
Nickelodeon isn’t the only player out there, though. USA Networks made its presentation to advertisers last Wednesday, touting new product such as the well-used Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and an original animated program called Itsy Bitsy Spider.
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