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Fox Sees Volume Gains In TV Upfront Sales

Add Fox to the list of networks seeing gains in TV’s annual upfront market.

The 21st Century Fox-owned broadcast network expects to win an increase in the amount of advertising commitments it secures in advance of the coming season, according to a person familiar with the situation. U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their advertising inventory each year as part of this market, which serves as a referendum of sorts on how Madison Avenue views TV.

The parent company saw improving interest across its Fox Networks Group, this person said, which includes Fox Broadcasting, Fox Sports, FX Networks and National Geographic. Volume gains across the portfolio were up approximately 5%, this person said. Approximately 75 to 80% of inventory was sold across the unit, which is said to have made gains in selling advertising packages across multiple viewing windows, including video on demand and streamign video.

Fox is the latest outlet to enjoy the benefits of a renewed interest by marketers in TV, after several years of growing emphasis on digital, mobile and social media. In 2015, the five broadcast networks secured  $8.02 billion and $8.69 billion for their primetime entertainment schedules, according to Variety estimates, compared with between $8.17 billion and $8.94 billion for the 2014-15 season.

Volume at Fox Broadcasting is seen increasing between 3% and 5%, according to the person, which could mean it secured between $1.47 billion and $1.64 billion for its primetime schedule, according to Variety estimates. Fox secured between $1.43 billion and $1.56 billion last year.

Fox gained more negotiating leverage in this year’s haggle as well. In 2015, Fox offered rollbacks in the costs of reaching 1,000 viewers, a measure also known as a CPM that is instrumental in these annual negotiations, of as much as 2%. This year, Fox was able to secure CPM increases of between 8.5% and 10%, according to ad buyers familiar with the talks. The network faces challenges in trying to match the increases being sought by CBS and NBC because its base CPMs are among the highest in the industry, owing to years of ratings success fueled by “American Idol.”

Advertisers were drawn to new Fox series including “24: Legacy,” “Prison Break,” “Pitch,” and “Lethal Weapon,” this person said.

The company is also working on selling its coming broadcast of Super Bowl XLI, and is working to nab more than $5 million for each 30-second ad berth it has to offer. One buying executive suggested the price tag could lead to longer negotiations, but Fox has so far believes Super Bowl sales are “pacing well,” according to the person familiar with the situation.

NBCUniversal is said by buyers to remain in talks with some major entities, including WPP’s GroupM, one of the largest representative of advertisers. NBCU has been particularly aggressive in this year’s talks, trying to secure CPM increases as high as 12%, according to buyers. GroupM has been firm in its desire for more moderate rates of increase, these executives said.

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