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A+E Upfront Goes Digital

A+E Networks will be talking digital at its upfront
presentation in New York this week. With the company's big cable networks -- History, A&E and Lifetime -- climbing in their respective demos, ad sales
chief Mel Berning expects to be dealing from strength, while most other major
cable networks have lost impressions. "We're in an excellent position to
increase our share of ad budgets," Berning says.

A portion of those budgets will be going toward the online
versions of shows as part of converged advertising packages Berning plans to

Digital will be a hot topic during the upfront, with
networks looking to replace lost linear impressions with on-demand viewers.
Last year, some ad buyers resisted efforts to combine linear and digital. Now,
"I don't hear anyone pushing back against convergent deals," Berning says.
"They help everyone -- the agencies, the clients and the networks -- get to scale."

Berning expects to charge the same CPM (cost per thousand
impressions) for digital spots as for TV spots, if the commercial load within
the program is the same. A lighter commercial load might call for "a different
cost structure," he says.

One sticking point on digital sales remains the lack of a
measurement system that treats TV impressions the same way as digital impressions,
enabling agencies to calculate the reach and frequency of their campaigns.

A+E will be using DoubleClick's data on video streams served
as the basis for its digital deals because Nielsen's online measurement isn't
ready yet. Berning says that there's a wide gap between the number of streams
reported by the company's servers and the number reported by Nielsen's ratings

"Right now, you need a scorecard to keep track of all the
ways we're counting impressions," Berning says.

Other highlights from the upfront, to be held at Lincoln
Center, will include an announcement that A&E Network's primetime will be
all-originals starting in 2013 and a performance by hot band Florence + the