Broadcast upfront: Still dragging on and on
ABC and NBC are winning CPM increases of 5 to 7 percent
June 24, 2013
This year’s broadcast upfront has drawn out nearly twice as long as last year’s.
Three networks (CBS, Fox and the CW) have been sold out for more than a week.
But ABC and NBC are slogging along, more than three weeks after negotiations began.
In fact, it’s possible that Univision, which has sold out more than three-quarters of its inventory so far, will wrap up before the English-language networks.
“I think ABC and NBC have taken longer because their terms were a bit onerous,” says one broadcast buyer.
Both networks are seeing decent CPM gains, the buyer says, about 5 to 7 percent each in primetime.
That’s about the same as Fox, which finished second among adults 18-49 during the recently ended broadcast television season.
NBC was third and ABC was fourth.
NBC’s “Blacklist” and “The Michael J. Fox Show” and ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Super Fun Night” are four of the hottest new shows for fall, which has boosted their negotiating power a bit.
But buyers say there aren’t really any must-buy shows this year, in the way that “American Idol” or “Desperate Housewives” once were, shows that clients absolutely demand to get their spots on.
That’s led to less leverage for the networks and longer negotiations. Last year the upfront wrapped up in just two weeks; this year it’s drawn out to nearly four so far.
NBC’s sales have also been slowed because NBCUniversal is bundling broadcast, cable and digital into its packages, leading to more complex and longer negotiations.
“The upfront seems to be playing out as expected. Broadcast is seeing modest increases overall,” the buyer says.
“Premium cable is a bit higher than broadcast. Dollars [on broadcast] are roughly flat to up slightly.”
Univision, meanwhile, is having a strong upfront. Sources say the network is on pace to sell 15 percent more dollar volume this year and receive CPM increases between 5 to 6 percent.
Usually the Spanish-language networks wrap up their upfront sales midway through the summer. But negotiations are moving at a faster pace than last year due to higher demand for inventory, matching pace of the English-language networks.
Cable negotiations are ongoing as well.
Buyers say that a few groups have wrapped up or nearly wrapped up negotiations, including Turner Networks and Viacom, while others such as Discovery and AMC remain in talks.
“More money is going to cable,” the buyer says.
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