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Advertisers’ continuing interest in live sports helped ViacomCBS close its upfront sales process even as the company met resistance from Madison Avenue over the rate increases it sought to bolster its business.

ViacomCBS has come to the end of its sales effort, according to a person familiar with the matter, notching noticeable growth in sports, particularly the NFL. Ad buyers expect the company to secure advance advertising commitments for its linear primetime schedule that are flat to up 6% from what it nabbed last year, with advertisers placing new emphasis on digital and streaming outlets, such as Pluto and Paramount Plus. Based on those figures, it’s possible ViacomCBS secured between $2.03 billion and $2.66 billion for the linear primetime schedule of its CBS broadcast network — the company’s highest-priced inventory.

ViacomCBS is said to have sought higher-than-market rates in the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers, a measure known as a CPM that is central to these annual talks between U.S. TV networks and Madison Avenue. The company made a push for CPM increases in the low to mid 20% range, according to buyers, while most networks saw CPM hikes of 16% to 22%. In 2020, the networks were able to secure increases of between just 3% and 4%.

The pricing rates are historic, according to many TV executives, but they come as the result of declining linear audiences and a resurgence of demand for TV ad time by marketers. The supply is crimped, but the need for it has increased as many businesses rebound after the coronavirus pandemic. The challenge for the networks it they don’t have the viewer impressions they need to take full advantage of Madison Avenue’s interest.

Among the categories lending ViacomCBS new support were movie studios, travel marketers and a growing cadre of direct-to-response advertisers who are new to TV and eager to use it to gain new awareness among consumers.