TV networks aim to laugh to the bank at "upfronts"

Wed May 9, 2012 7:01pm EDT
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By Yinka Adegoke and Lisa Richwine

(Reuters) - Broadcast television networks are going for laughs to attract viewers, pitching new comedies at next week's annual "upfront" presentations to advertising buyers.

The big four U.S. broadcast networks - ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC - are all coming to the television industry's annual rite with new comedies, a format that helps lower viewer age for older-skewing broadcast networks.

Though overtaken last year in total upfront dollars by insurgent cable networks like AMC Networks, each broadcaster still pulls in more dollars than any cable network.

Early indications from industry experts suggest that the big four broadcasters will see an increase in upfront revenue of between 2 percent to 4 percent for the 2012-13 TV season.

The big four plus the CW network should collect between $9.0 billion and $9.2 billion during the upfront season, according to Steve Lanzano, chief executive of TVB, a trade body for TV broadcasters.

Cable networks are expected to see upfront revenue increases of between 4 percent to 6 percent on average, according to analyst estimates.

Lanzano estimated the more numerous cable networks will ring up $9.6 billion to $9.8 billion in upfront sales.

CASH FOR COMEDY   Continued...