Syndie Likes How '03 Is Shaping Up

The syndication ad-sales market remains strong, and sales executives say that, at least for now, the outlook for the entire year looks fairly good.

For the most part, advertisers did not opt out of first-quarter spending commitments, and the scatter prices for top-tier product are holding to increases of 10% or more over upfront prices.

"It wouldn't be such a terrible thing if some advertisers exercised their second-quarter options," said one syndication ad sales executive, given the strength of the current market and pricing.

Second-quarter option decisions are due shortly, "but it looks like it will hold up as well," said Michael Teicher, senior vice president of media sales for Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. "The market has remained strong, and we are optimistic that conditions will remain favorable heading into the upfront."

Other sales executives agreed. "The market is holding up very well," said the head of sales at another big syndication company. "It's almost been a surprise when you think about the greater economy."

Others noted that network-TV sales are still strong for the first and second quarters, and that usually bodes well for the other TV media. And the second-quarter strength, if it holds, is a positive barometer for the 2003 upfront.

"Everything points to a lot of strength," said another syndication executive. "We're well sold in the second quarter." Movies and soft drinks are spending aggressively in the second quarter, and those two categories tend to drive second-quarter billings, said one media executive. The pharmaceuticals also have maintained a high level of spending, said one sales executive.