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NBCU Notches Volume Gains In TV’s Upfront Market

NBCUniversal notched volume gains of between 8% and 9% in TV’s “upfront” market, the latest signal that marketers have continued to pour ad dollars back into the medium as they face challenges with a range of digital media in both quality and accuracy.

The company said it secured a “high single digit” percentage increase in volume for both its broadcast and cable assets, bringing the total value of advertising commitments secured in advance of the new TV season to just under $6.5 billion. In last year’s upfront, the NBC broadcast network saw volume increase by 10%, while the company’s cable assets saw volume rise 5%. NBCU secured more than $6 billion in the 2016 marketplace, where TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory to Madison Avenue.

In last year’s market, NBC secured approximately $2.53 billion for its primetime schedule. If one were to use 8% as a proxy for the company’s performance, NBC might have captured around $2.73 billion, according to Variety estimates. The Los Angeles Times previously reported on NBCUniversal’s upfront activity.

The company’s performance indicates that broadcast networks saw volume rise a few percentage points, as advertisers re-allocate marketing budgets while grappling with fears about commercials accompanying content of debatable quality as well as being measured properly in digital venues. During NBCU’s upfront presentation to advertisers in May, ad-sales chairman Linda Yaccarino (above, pictured) took aim at digital rivals by telling the audience, ” I mean, what the hell is a ‘view’ anyway? Has a ‘view’ ever bought any of your products? Has a ‘like’ ever walked into a store?”

Despite the trash talk, NBCU benefits from digital advertising – though the company makes the point that it offers higher quality content than some of its streaming-video counterparts. NBCU secured more than $125 million from deals associated with advertising in venues with which it has a partnership. NBCU has stakes in Vox, Buzzfeed and Snap and sells advertising for Apple’s Apple News.  The activity marks a 68% increase over what the company secured last year.

Like many of its rivals, NBCUniversal sought increases in the rate it charges to reach audiences. NBC sought hikes in the high-single-digit percentage range in the rate it charges to reach 1,000 viewers, a measure known as a CPM that is central to these annual talks between TV networks and Madison Avenue. In 2016, NBCU pressed for CPM hikes of around 12.5% for primetime.

The company declined to comment on whether it had been able to sell $1 billion in advertising inventory it had earmarked for advertisers seeking  new chances to use the company’s data products and large portfolio of media assets to tackle specific marketing missions. NBCU indicated, however, that it had seen more marketers express interest in such deals.

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