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CW Expects Robust Volume Gains in TV’s Upfront Sales Market

Madison Avenue hopes to catch “Black Lightning” in a bottle.

Advertisers attracted to the prospect of a new night of programming boosted the volume of advance ad commitments at TV’s CW network, a signal that Madison Avenue is giving more credence to TV commercials than previously expected at a time when marketers say they are placing new emphasis on digital alternatives.

The network expects volume in advance ad commitments to increase by around 15%, according to a person familiar with the matter. That means the CW could expect to secure “upfront” commitments totaling between $564.5 million and $631.8 million, according to Variety estimates, compared with between $490.9 million and $549.4 million in last year’s negotiations. In 2017, the CW notched volume gains of between just 3% and 5%, suggesting demand in 2018 from advertisers was on the rise.

U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming programming cycle during the industry’s annual “upfront” market, which typically gets underway in late spring and early summer.

CW ad sales executives pressed for increases in the rate of reaching 1,000 viewers – a measure known as a CPM that is central to these annual talks between TV networks and Madison Avenue – of between 10% and 11%, this person said. In 2017, the CW pushed for CPM gains in the high-single-digit to low-double-digit percentage range.

The anticipated volume increases come as the CW had more ad time to sell this year. The network unveiled a 2018-2019 lineup with a Sunday schedule, the first time it has done so in many years. The extra night boosted national ad inventory at the network by approximately 20%.

Advertisers were interested in new programs like “All-American”and a reboot of the supernatural drama “Charmed,” the chance to align themselves with the final seasons of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Jane the Virgin” and CW’s growing slate of superhero series, which include the sophomore season of “Black Lightning” along with “Arrow” and “Supergirl.”

The CW  sold about 80% of its ad inventory, this person said, on par with 2017 and 2016. When demand is higher, networks tend to sell more in the upfront market, rather than holding it back for sale on an as-needed basis for what is known as “scatter.”

 

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