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CBS Sees Double for Upfront Gains

Network boss Leslie Moonves predicts robust advertising sales for the Eye

CBS topper Leslie Moonves unofficially opened the annual upfront haggle last week by declaring that the Eye should be able to secure hikes for ad time prices that could be at least as high as 10%.

For weeks, analysts and ad buyers have projected mild price hikes for this year’s upfront, the annual mid-May session when the nation’s TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming TV season. But in an earnings conference call with investors May 1, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves said in no uncertain terms that the price increases ought to be much higher.

“We will be very aggressive going into the upfront,” said Moonves. “I can say with absolute confidence that we will once again lead the marketplace in both pricing and volume. The pricing increases will look a lot like they did last year, from high-single-digit to low-double-digit.”

Moonves often makes bold predictions regarding CBS’ ability to secure price increases in the upfront, but he typically unveils them earlier in the year. “And there you have it, the numbers you have been waiting for,” he joked.

Buyers have privately suggested advertisers will pay no more than a mid-single-digit percentage increase in CPMs.

In the 2012 upfront, CBS won CPM hikes of 8% to 9%; Fox won hikes of 7% to 9%; ABC secured 6% to 8%; NBC’s was 5% to 7%; and the CW notched 5.5% to 6.5%.

Moonves said he felt it was time for him to speak. “I’ve read at least three stories (saying), ‘Oh, the networks aren’t bullish because Moonves hasn’t said double-digits.’ So I’ve said double-digits the last two years.”

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