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Disney Sees Gains As It Wraps Kids Deals

The Walt Disney Co. says it has concluded its deals in the kids upfront, posting significant sales gains in what it expects to be an overall down market.

Because Disney Channel is non-commercial, selling sponsorship packages to marketers instead of spots, Disney is a small player in the kids ad market compared with its main rivals, Viacom’s Nickelodeon and Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting.

Rita Ferro (pictured), executive VP, Disney media sales and marketing, says Disney’s sales were up 35% in the upfront. The gains were paced by packages combining Disney XD, which airs commercials, Radio Disney, Disney tablet apps and on demand. Ferro also said there was increased sponsorship activity on Disney Channel, particularly surrounding upcoming original movies, including its second Teen Beach Movie.

Ferro said Disney has been effective in getting marketers to use its channels to reach adult viewers, particularly moms. Retailers and mobile phone companies have been receptive to the pitch.

Ferro says she expects the kids market to be down about 10%. Like the adult upfront, more marketers appear to be holding back money from the upfront in order to be more flexible. And in the kids market, spending by toy makers and food marketers is down, she added.

Disney’s upfront strategy was to push for added volume rather than price, a strategy that might have been well suited to a weak market in which buyers felt little pressure to accept rate hikes.

Nickelodeon and Turner’s Cartoon Network were not yet done with their upfront deals.

“It is premature for us to discuss the details of kids’ upfront at this time, however we are very confident in our performance and leadership position in the marketplace,” Nickelodeon said in a statement.