Broadcast upfront wraps up


ABC, CBS and NBC have concluded their upfront ad sales with rate increases of 9% to 14% over last year’s prices. However, despite fetching double-digit rate hikes, the networks will not receive a commensurate boost in total ad revenue. That’s because programs have been delivering lower ratings.

NBC, which finished the most recent season in fourth place once again, managed increases of about 9%. Third place ABC hiked its rates by about 11%, the same as The CW network. Fox Broadcasting was the first network to sell its ad time, garnering rate increases of about 10%. CBS, with the largest overall primetime audience, commanded the highest rate increase, averaging 13% to 15%.

When all the money is counted, the broadcast networks look like they will score $8.7 billion to $9.5 billion for primetime commercials for next season, according to the LA Times, an 8.1% increase that would have been bigger without signs of a weakening in the economy. The amount, short of a record, is still significant because the networks have steadily been losing audiences to other forms of entertainment.

Several advertisers were particularly aggressive in buying time, including Hollywood movie studios, national financial firms and insurance and pharmaceutical companies, according to the story.

“Buoyed by a strong response from advertisers to a schedule that was equal parts stability and ambition and includes TV’s No. 1 Drama and No. 1 Comedy and many buzz-worthy new additions, ABC has concluded its upfront negotiations, achieving significant increases in pricing,” the network said in a statement. “This positive response helped drive great volume across the board and across all dayparts, and reinforced the confidence that national advertisers have in the power of ABC.”

Overall sales rose from about $8.05 billion last year, based on totals provided by people familiar with each network’s results.

CBS was said to receive $2.65 billion in primetime commitments, up from about $2.5 billion last year. ABC’s haul increased to about $2.4 billion from $2.2 billion, and NBC took in about $100 million more than last year’s $1.6 billion. The network had fewer slots available for upfront sales this time because it will carry the 2012 Olympics from London.

Fox, which programs two hours of primetime each weeknight, a third than its rivals, was said to receive $1.95 billion in commitments, up from $1.75 billion. The network, the leader in the 18-49 age group advertisers target, finished its sales 6/3.