Turner Nears the Upfront Finish Line

Sources say company is writing 6% CPM bumps

As broadcast closes out this week, big kahuna cable conglomerate Turner is working on the last of its deals, with CPM increases around the 6 percent range and flat volume (a good thing in a market where volume is flat to down across all of television and down quite a bit in broadcast), according to an industry source familiar with negotiations. Category growth for Turner includes some increase in automotive partnerships.

TNT managed to bump out USA for the no. 1 slot in 18-49 last year, but isn't resting on its laurels. The company's Michael Bay-produced contagion drama The Last Ship debuted to respectable ratings earlier this week—with a 1.2 rating and 4 share in the key 18-49 demo—and it's got a full slate for the fall including a period police drama from Ed Burns about the vice division of the NYPD, called Public Morals. 

Turner has a large library of properties to sell, so it's somewhat surprising that head of ad sales Donna Speciale has been able to line up everything so quickly. But the networks have been positioned by execs like Speciale and recently promoted president David Levy as "broadcast replacement," and with fewer GRPs in broadcast this coming season, advertisers can either buy cable upfront shows or wait until scatter and hope that everyone else isn't doing likewise.

TBS, too, has a number of interesting shows due out in the fall, notably an Airplane-style cop drama spoof called Angie Tribeca that features Steve Carrell and Rashida Jones. It's not totally clear what Turner will do with TruTV in the meantime, or how its Albie Hecht-led rebrand of HLN will continue, but Jeff Zucker's revamp of CNN has gotten good notices.

There's been some upheaval at the company in the recent past: Steve Koonin left his perch as head of Turner Networks in April and Adweek has learned that Stu Snyder is no longer heading up Cartoon, either, as of a few weeks ago. The company appears to be realigning, but what that new configuration will look like isn't quite clear yet.

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