CAB Touts Record Upfronts for Cable

Ad-supported cable this summer racked up the most lucrative upfront haul in history, boosting advance sponsor commitments by 19 percent to a hair over $8 billion.

According to Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau calculations, the 2010-11 upfront marked the first time that cable drew even with the broadcast nets during the summer bazaar. While the CAB didn’t provide an estimate for the five networks’ aggregate take, analysts eyeballed the figure at around $8.25 billion. (Given a margin of error of +/- 3 percent, those figures evince statistical parity.)

While the year-over-year sales gains were perhaps artificially enhanced by comparisons to a moribund 2009-10 upfront marketplace, when cable networks took in $6.73 billion, it’s worth noting that this year’s total was also a 5 percent improvement from the prerecession 2008-09 market, which brought in a then-highest $7.6 billion.

All told, cable nets took in an additional $1.28 billion during this summer’s upfront period.

“As U.S. advertisers look for sales growth in this tough economy, they’ve turned to cable brands at every step to take the lead in delivering their goals,” said CAB president and CEO Sean Cunningham. “Cable has been the driving media for advertising one’s way out of a recession.”

Barring another economic bust, buyers and sellers alike say upfront dollars are likely to stick.

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