Upfront just beginning


It’s the typical posturing—like clockwork—this time of the year, but nonetheless, CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves said he expects upfront pricing to rise by double digits for next season. He does have reason to be optimistic. Last year CBS got increases of about 13%.  

“I think we’re in that kind of marketplace and we’ve got that kind of ratings story,” said Moonves, speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference this week.

Right now, it’s still pilot season in Hollywood. Broadcast network execs have considered all the pitches they’ve heard for new series and read all the scripts they’ve received. The next step, for the lucky ones, is going to pilot as the network orders one episode produced. These will be all part of the upfront pitch…and a few great one might make some advertisers very happy they took a chance and bought them.

Here’s how it looked last year: ABC, CBS and NBC 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. Fox 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%+.

Also, things will be a little different this year. In April Google/YouTube, Yahoo, Hulu, AOL and Microsoft are planning a two-week upfront event in NYC, dubbed “Digital Content New Fronts.” Each company will take a different day to present different marketing opportunities to agencies and advertisers such as plans for upcoming video programming and original series.

Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Weiser expects some 8% CPM increases for network TV 2012-13 primetime advertising negotiated during this year’s Upfront: “We believe this is materially above consensus expectations and accordingly we would expect these seemingly favorable price increases to positively impact sentiment around ad-supported media stocks including CBS, Comcast, Walt Disney and News Corp. Cable network owners including Time Warner, Discovery, Viacom, Scripps and AMC may also benefit from a ‘halo’ effect around perceived strength going into the 2012-13 season.”

Meanwhile, the first upfront presentation has been already been made by NickMom on 2/9. But March is the real beginning. Here’s what’s next:

March 1, 2012 The Hub New York Evening
March 7, 2012 BBC America Los Angeles Evening
March 8, 2012 Fox News Channel Los Angeles 5pm
March 8, 2012 The Hub Chicago Evening
March 13, 2012 Disney Channel New York Evening
March 14, 2012 Crown Media Family Networks New York Lunch
March 14, 2012 Nickelodeon New York Late Afternoon
March 15, 2012 NBC News/MSNBC New York Lunch
March 15, 2012 The Hub West Hollywood Evening
March 19, 2012 ABC Family New York Afternoon
March 20, 2012 TV One New York Lunch
March 20, 2012 Scripps Network Boston Afternoon
March 20, 2012 IFC New York Late Afternoon/Evening
March 21, 2012 GSN New York Morning
March 21, 2012 Fox News Channel Chicago Late Afternoon/Evening
March 22, 2012 AMC New York Evening
March 22, 2012 Discovery Communications Chicago Late Afternoon/Evening
March 27, 2012 Scripps Network Detroit Late Afternoon/Evening
March 27, 2012 Nickelodeon Los Angeles Morning
March 27, 2012 nuvoTV Los Angeles Evening
March 28, 2012 Cartoon Network New York Late Afternoon
March 29, 2012 Scripps Network Minneapolis Afternoon
March 29, 2012 BBC America Chicago Evening
March 29, 2012 CNBC New York Evening

April 3, 2012 Scripps Networks Dallas Afternoon
April 4, 2012 Bravo New York Evening
April 5, 2012 Discovery Communications New York Late Afternoon/Evening
April 12, 2012 BET Networks Los Angeles Lunch
April 16, 2012 BET Networks Chicago Lunch
April 17, 2012 nuvoTV Chicago Evening
April 18, 2012 BET Networks New York Evening
April 18, 2012 Scripps Networks Chicago Late Afternoon/Evening
April 18, 2012 Style Network New York Breakfast
April 19, 2012 Discovery Communications LA Late Afternoon/Evening
April 19, 2012 Bravo Dallas Evening
April 19, 2012 BBC America New York Evening
April 19, 2012 Nickelodeon Chicago Morning
April 23, 2012 Scripps Networks New York Late Afternoon/Evening
April 24, 2012 Syfy New York Evening
April 24, 2012 nuvoTV New York Evening
April 25, 2012 Bravo Chicago Evening
April 25, 2012 Oxygen New York Evening
April 26, 2012 MTV New York Late Afternoon
April 30, 2012 Scripps Networks Atlanta Afternoon
April 30, 2012 E!  New York Evening

May 3, 2012 Scripps Networks Los Angeles Late Afternoon/Evening
May 9, 2012 A&E Networks New York Evening
May 14, 2012 NBC-TV New York Morning
May 14, 2012 Fox-TV New York Afternoon
May 14, 2012 Azteca America New York Evening
May 15, 2012 ESPN New York Morning
May 15, 2012 Univision New York Morning
May 15, 2012 ABC-TV New York Afternoon
May 15, 2012 Discovery U.S. Hispanic New York Afternoon
May 15, 2012 Telemundo  New York Evening
May 16, 2012 Turner Broadcasting New York Morning
May 16, 2012 NCM Media Networks New York Afternoon
May 16, 2012 Fox Hispanic Media New York Afternoon
May 16, 2012 CBS-TV New York Afternoon
May 16, 2012 V-ME New York Afternoon
May 16, 2012 Tr3s: MTV, Música y Más New York Evening
May 17, 2012 The CW New York Morning
May 17, 2012 USA Network New York Evening