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

  • david-tennant-in-netflix-procedural-criminal

    David Tennant, Hayley Atwell Among Guest Stars in Netflix Procedural ‘Criminal’

    A host of guest stars have signed on for “Criminal,” the stripped-down Netflix procedural set in France, Spain, Germany and the U.K. The action takes place within the confines of a police interview suite. There are three 45-minute episodes set in each country. Guest stars in the British installments include David Tennant (“Good Omens”), Hayley [...]

  • Baztan Elizondo Guardián Invisible

    Conecta Fiction: Spain’s Navarre Primes Film-TV Gameplan

    MADRID  — Navarre has been a long-term film and TV shooting locale thanks to diverse and sometimes stunning landscapes that take in the Bardenas Reales badlands, immortalized in titles such as “The World Is Not Enough” and “Game of Thrones.” One of Spain’s richest regions, Navarre has historically levied its own tax regime, which led [...]

  • Jeremy Sisto, Ebonee Noel, Dick Wolf,

    Dick Wolf Plots Cross-Network Crossover Between CBS, NBC

    Veteran television producer Dick Wolf, best known for creating the “Law & Order” franchise, is eyeing a cross-network crossover between his CBS freshman procedural “FBI” or its in-the-works spinoff “FBI: Most Wanted” and one of his NBC shows, such as “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” or “Chicago P.D.” The decision whether to go with [...]

  • Prince Albert II of Monaco (C),

    Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union's 'L.A.’s Finest' Opens Monte Carlo TV Festival

    Prince Albert II of Monaco opened the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival on Friday at a glittering ceremony at the principality’s Grimaldi Forum attended by Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba. The Hollywood actresses presented the French premiere of their action cop series “L.A.’s Finest,” which has just been renewed for a second season. “You typically [...]

  • Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba'L.A.'s Finest'

    Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union Speak About Horrific 'L.A.’s Finest' On-Set Accident

    Actresses Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba spoke about how the horrific accident on the set of their action cop series “L.A.’s Finest” affected them and the crew at the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival Saturday. They also paid tribute to the main victim of the incident, executive producer/co-showrunner Brandon Sonnier, whose leg was amputated below [...]

  • Emmys: How a Social Media Campaign

    How a Social Media Campaign to Game the Emmys Led to This Week's 'Block Voting' Scandal

    The Television Academy’s “block voting” controversy has quickly become the talk of Emmy season — and that appears to have been the org’s point. According to multiple insiders, the number of people disqualified from voting in this year’s competition is believed to be small, only around three members (out of nearly 25,000 members overall). But [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content