ABC Moves to Complete Upfront Deals in Weak Market

Ad buyers estimate Disney network's volume is down 5% to 10%

ABC confirmed that it has largely wrapped its upfront ad sales, the latest broadcast outlet to acknowledge it had completed negotiations in what buyers have characterized as a tepid market.

Ad buyers estimate the Walt Disney network may see its volume of advance ad commitments fall by as much as 5% to 10% in this annual market for commercial inventory sold for the coming programming season.

In 2013, ABC secured between $2 billion and $2.2 billion, according to Variety estimates, which means the broadcaster of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” may have secured between $1.8 billion and $2.1 billion. An ABC spokeswoman declined to comment.

Like many other broadcast networks this year, ABC was able to secure deals by offering a lesser rate of increase in the cost of  a CPM, a measure that looks at the price of reaching 1,000 viewers, which is instrumental in these annual talks. Last year, ABC held out for as much as 7%; in 2014, the network did deals with CPM increases ranging from 4% to 5%, according to ad buyers and a person familiar with the situation.

As it did last year, the network is likely to place emphasis on the so-called scatter market, when advertisers buy commercials closer to their air date, and can often face paying a premium if demand is high. Other broadcast and cable outlets are taking a similar outlook, according to executives on both sides of the haggle.

CBS has given indications that it is largely done with its upfront process, while Fox, NBC, the CW and cable outlets continue to negotiate with clients.


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