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Barclays Predicts Big Upfront Gains

Barclays Capital is predicting a 20% surge in upfront ad
dollars for the big four broadcast networks. The investment bank, the first to
release upfront predictions, suggests the total network haul will be $8.26
billion. Cable networks will be up 15% to 20%, according to the firms latest

Last year Barclays entertainment analyst Anthony DiClemente
had projected a 15% decline in ad dollars to $7.4 billion. This years rosier
forecast is based on surging automotive advertising, strong scatter pricing and
the likelihood that media buyers will be more likely to want to lock in cheaper
upfront rates than pay more in the year round market.

DiClemente suggests inventory sell-out levels will be around
77%, up from last year's estimate of 70%. We expect CPM pricing increases to
come out in the high single digit range as opposed to double digit range
increases, he added in an investor note today.

CBS will have most to gain, according to the analysts 16
page analysis of the marketplace. DiClemente suggests that CBS will see a 28%
increase in dollar volume, while Fox will be up 22%. Both companies might be
able to command CPM increases in the mid to high single digits while he
suggests that ABC will be up 16% and NBC up 13% with those two networks likely
to peg CPM increases in the mid-single digit range.

A C3 ratings analysis on the key advertiser demographic of
18-49 year olds shows NBC down 15.1% year-on-year, with the Winter Olympics
stripped out of Barclays season-to-date summary of Nielsen data. ABC is down
10.6% while CBS is up 1.3% and Fox up 1.5%.

Media buyers and TV sales executives often knock Wall Street
upfront projections given that they are yet to see upfront budgets, which
ultimately determine the demand for airtime. The upfront is also just one indicator
of the overall ad market and a poor predictor of end of year tallies. Though it
is clear that ad demand is on the rise. Comcast Corp. said today first quarter
cable ad sales rose by 24%. The company's programming segment comprising
channels such as E! Entertainment and Style Network among others, saw a 6.7%
increase in revenue to $385 million, on higher advertising and subscription
revenue. The company did not break out a precise figure for ad revenue derived
from its own services. Viacom and Discovery Communications report first quarter
numbers Thursday, April 29 and Friday, April 30 respectively.