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A Wall Street View of the Upfronts

Along with media buyers, Wall Street analysts have been keeping their eyes on the network upfront presentations this week.

Ultimately, upfronts are about ad revenue, and in a report this morning, John Janedis of UBS says “overall, we expect total broadcast dollars to decline 5%, with cable nets up in the mid-singles.”

Todd Juenger of Sanford C. Bernstein offered a more expansive overview.

Juenger say the most important business takeaways have been:

  1. Programming investment is materially increasing. All the broadcast nets are moving to less reruns, year-round scheduling, and more “miniseries” type concepts.
  2. Cross-platform deals are now the norm. But the upfronts are really about introducing new shows. And our overwhelming reaction, except at CBS, is “meh.”

Looking at the broadcasters on a network by network basis, Juenger’s assessment is: “Fox is in the biggest hole and nothing we saw will dig them out. ABC has biggest upside. Turner is throwing a lot against the wall. And CBS returns the most shows and adds to its strength while everyone else scrambles.”

From an investment point of view, “we come away most excited about AMC Networks, Discovery Communications, Scripps Networks and News Corp.’s cable networks,” he said.

Complete Coverage: Upfronts 2013