You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

NBCUniversal, Fox Networks Group, ABC Make Early Progress in TV’s Upfront Market

NBCUniversal, Fox Networks Group and ABC are making progress in the early stages of the annual haggling over upfront advertising sales, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The companies have all begun to sell ad inventory during the period in which U.S. TV networks seek to obtain commitments for the bulk of their commercial inventory for the upcoming season. Executives on both sides of the table caution that talks remain in their nascent stages and that buyers and TV networks continue to wrangle over pricing terms.

The major networks made initial requests for rate increases that buyers say they hope to resist. CBS and NBCUniversal initially sought increases in the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers – a metric known as a CPM that is central to these annual talks between TV networks and Madison Avenue – in the low double-digit percentage range for primetime inventory, according to people familiar with the talks.  Fox and ABC have been seeking CPM hikes in the high-single-digit percentage range for primetime, sources said.

CBS and some cable companies have also begun to sell advance advertising commitments for their schedules. CBS has been asking for mid-to-high single-digit percentage increases, with cable networks working to tuck underneath what executives perceive broadcast networks are getting.

The nation’s five English-language broadcast networks last year secured between $8.41 billion and $9.25 billion in advance commitments for primetime in the upfront, according to Variety estimates –  the first time in three years they managed to break the $9 billion mark. The figures, of course, represent indications of advertisers’ intent to spend, not cold, hard cash. The final numbers typically show up in some form in year-end earnings reports.

Among negotiators, it’s generally understood that everything is flexible until significant deals are struck. The networks sought to force big rate increases that were quickly rejected by buyers. “Everyone came out high” with rate increases, said one top media buyer. “There’s not a buyer who will stand for that.”

The industry remains focused on NBCUniversal. As the company that has so many of TV’s top-rated properties – “Sunday Night Football” and “This Is Us,” for example – NBC has a lot of the audience advertisers covet most. NBCU is also selling ads for the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics and Telemundo’s broadcasts of the World Cup.

As such, the rates NBCU accepts could influence what sorts of CPM hikes rivals are able to negotiate. “There is no clarity on NBCU, and the ceiling they may be setting,” said another buying executive. Once that matter is resolved, buyers suggested, the market could move more significantly.

“Everyone wants to pay less than a year ago, but the question is how much less,” this buyer said.

Fox Networks is seeing early interest in its FX cable network, according to one person familiar with talks and in a suite of new ad products the company unveiled at its May presentation. At that time, Joe Marchese, president of ad revenue for the 21st Century Fox-owned unit, called attention to Open A.P., a joint ad sales venture with Viacom and Turner that helps advertisers cut deals based on targeted audience segments sold across the three conglomerates, as well as promoting new commercial formats for programs offered via VOD.

More TV

  • Disney Channel Fires 'Andi Mack' Actor

    Disney Channel Fires 'Andi Mack' Actor Arrested for Plotting Sex With Minor

    Disney Channel has severed ties with “Andi Mack” actor Stoney Westmoreland following his arrest for allegedly trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a 13-year-old. “Stoney Westmoreland, an actor working on the series ‘Andi Mack,’ was arrested in Salt Lake City today,” a Disney Channel spokesperson said in a statement Friday. “Given the nature of [...]

  • Russian Doll

    TV News Roundup: Natasha Lyonne's 'Russian Doll' Sets Netflix Premiere Date

    On Friday’s roundup, Netflix announces the premiere date for “Russian Doll” and Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Brexit” film has a premiere date on HBO FIRST LOOKS Showtime has released a new teaser for the upcoming comedy series, “Black Monday,” which will premiere Sunday, Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The series stars and is executive produced by Don [...]

  • Vanity Fair Review

    TV Review: 'Vanity Fair'

    There’s something comforting about the predictability of a period piece novel adaptation in the Masterpiece Theater tradition. Knowing the story, or even just the rhythms of the genre, there are rarely many surprises. The women will toss off witticisms and cry careful, pretty tears; the men will steel their jaws and declare their love, ideally [...]

  • FILE - In this April 5,

    CBS Claims Commitment to Ending Harassment. Its Actions Say Otherwise (Column)

    At this point, a new breaking sexual harassment case at CBS isn’t exactly a surprise. Over and over again, powerful CBS company men from producers to executives to the ex-CEO himself have made headlines for propagating decades of harassment and abuse, with dozens of witnesses affirming that the pattern was business as usual. But as [...]

  • Willow ShieldsVariety Portrait Studio, Beautycon Festival

    'Hunger Games' Alum Willow Shields Joins Netflix Drama Series 'Spinning Out'

    Willow Shields has been cast in a series regular role in “Spinning Out,” the upcoming ice skating drama series at Netflix. She joins a cast that also includes Kaya Scodelario, who was announced as the series lead on Thursday, taking over the role originally held by Emma Roberts. Shields will star as Serena, Kat Baker’s (Scodelario) [...]

  • Adam Levine Cardi B

    Maroon 5 and How the Super Bowl Halftime Show Became Music's Least Wanted Gig

    Who would have thought that the Super Bowl Halftime show, an American institution watched by more than 100 million people, would become the least wanted gig in music? But thanks to the ongoing controversy concerning the NFL’s stance on a player’s right to protest, brought to the forefront by football’s top conscientious objector Colin Kaepernick, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content