Valentine Predicts Big Ad Takings For UPN

By Caillan
July 17, 2001 - 9:37 AM

With the combined power of the vampire-slaying Buffy and the latest starship Enterprise at his disposal, UPN president Dean Valentine said Monday that he expects the network to rake in its best upfront advertising revenue yet.

Valentine told the media at the Television Critics Association press tour that this year's upfront advertising revenue would exceed last year's takings of $160 million. The upfront takings form the majority of the network's advertising revenue for the season, as buyers vie for commercial time before the start of the actual television season.

The statement came despite the depressed state of the advertising market and the fact that ad buyers said that UPN's current totals for the year sit at approximately $60 million.

"If you look at the strength of our Monday African American comedy lineup, the additions of Buffy and Roswell, and the introduction of Enterprise we think we have one of most solid [prime time] lineups in over five years," Valentine said (via Electronic Media Online).

Boosted by the acquisition of Buffy and Roswell, Valentine predicted that UPN would beat the ratings of the WB network on four nights a week in the categories of adults 18-34, 18-49 and total viewers. "In the aggregate, we think that Buffy and Roswell will deliver more ratings points as the season progresses as well as help the other evenings of our lineup through their promotional clout," he said.

Although the network paid $2.3 million for each Buffy episode, Valentine stated that the series would pay for itself, as it could be used to promote other UPN shows. "Buffy will hasten our reaching profitability," he said.

UPN's chief operating officer, Adam Ware, said that 25% of the network's revenue is from "new business," including The Gap clothing empire. Also new is cosmetics company Maybelline, for which Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar serves as a spokesmodel.

Despite the addition of advertising targeted at the female demographic, Buffy had the "highest concentration" of male viewers when it aired on the WB network. However, although the series will enable UPN to continue to attract the male demographic, Valentine said that "we always said we were male-friendly, not male exclusive. We still hope to get a large complement of female viewers."

The final figure for this year's upfront ad revenue isn't expected until Friday, as the network still has to negotiate 10 to 20% of its business.

More information can be found in this Electronic Media article or this report.

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