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ABC Expects Primetime Volume Gains in TV’s Upfront Market

Advertisers are putting new emphasis on ABC.

The Walt Disney owned network captured a larger amount of ad commitments for its primetime schedule than it did last year, a signal of Madison Avenue interest in programs like “American Idol,” “The Good Doctor” and “black-ish.” The volume surge at ABC comes despite the network’s loss of “Roseanne,” the once-celebrated reboot of the Roseanne Barr sitcom that had to be scrapped after its star posted controversial and racist tweets. ABC is replacing the program with “The Conners,” a sitcom that includes the other characters in the show, but not Barr’s.

ABC expects the volume of advance ad commitments placed for its primetime schedule to increase between 6% and 8%, according to a person familiar with the matter.  Those figures suggest that ABC secured between $1.86 billion and $2.22 billion  for primetime, according to Variety estimates. In 2017, ABC notched volume gains of between 3% and 5%, resulting in commitments of between $1.75 billion and $2.06 billion. During the “upfront,” U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming TV season.

The results come after CBS and Fox are believed to have mustered moderate gains in primetime volume, and suggest that advertisers continue to rely on TV despite the rise of a host of attractive video alternatives, including streaming video and mobile devices.

ABC pressed for increases in the rate of reaching 1,000 viewers, an integral measure in these annual talks between TV networks and Madison Avenue. ABC sought CPM increase of between 10% and 11%, according to media buyers and others familiar with upfront talks, compared with the 8% to 9% it sought in 2017.

Walt Disney expects high-single digit increases in overall ad volume for ABC and its entertainment-oriented cable networks, and double-digit volume increases at ESPN, according to the person familiar with the matter.

Advertisers gravitated to deals with data components that helped them isolate particular audience segments, this person said, and increased digital ad commitments by 25% over last year’s upfront session.

In addition to the aforementioned ABC programs, advertisers seemed interested in freshman series “A Million Little Things,” “The Fix”and “Grand Hotel” as well as Freeform’s “Pretty Little Liars, ” The Perfectionists,” “Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger” and “The Bold Type”and Disney’s “Duck Tales.”

Pharmaceutical ad spending was strong, as it has been at other media companies in this year’s upfront session.  Disney also saw interest from manufacturers of consumer packaged goods. retailers, technology marketers and financial-services companies.

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