The upfront so far: CPMs up; revenue down


The major buyers are talking about the upfront, but off the record due to being in the thick of negotiations: "We're in it with the networks. The last thing I want them to know is I'm talking to the press and giving away all of the trade secrets. I don't want to discuss numbers on the record-it's a very sensitive time of the year to be throwing out numbers."

"It's a healthy TV marketplace and the death of TV is greatly exaggerated," said one buyer.

Most everything on the broadcast side got done Friday and Monday, according to one agency. Overall, the big four are pretty much done except for some bits and pieces. The CW will be done in a day or two. "It's not for lack of interest that they're not done, they're just doing things on their timing," said a buyer.

As far as the timing on FOX being finished before ABC, etc, a major buyer told us, "It depends on how far along you are with them, what kind of plans you need, if you're comfortable with your numbers. If you're not, it will take longer. I don't think there was any stalling involved this time around."

For primetime, the CPM increases were 5-7%. The average of all the dayparts were 4-6% up. But while CPM increases were up, the overall revenue is down from past years due to overall shrinking ratings points. Prime money could be flat to slightly up, but no record. "Another big thing this year is not only the demand, but also the capacity-how much inventory there is to sell," a buyer/negotiator told us. "Obviously there was a lot less available inventory because the ratings points were down. It's like cars to an auto maker. If you have less to sell, you have less to sell. They have less to sell. It demonstrates supply and demand. You keep paying more for less."

Details on cable, syndication and digital package tomorrow and Monday.

SmartMedia note: Going to press late last night reports were trickling in that for the most part the prime-time upfront haggling with agencies was just about completed by the big four networks. Tallies not yet accurate but the dollars committed is around 9 billion and change which is up around 5 percent from last year. Not much of a gain more like flat when inflation is put into the media mix.