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ABC Cleans Up In UpFront

It only ranks number-three, but ABC sold aggressively and has virtually wrapped up its upfront sales.

The network said Tuesday it has advertiser commitments for $2.7 billion for the upcoming season, with the cost per thousand viewers up 4%-6%. That $2.7 billion – which includes both prime time shows and $600 million worth of sports – is around 30% more than ABC wrote during last year’s upfront.

Still, ABC is only selling around 75% of its inventory in the upfront, banking that scatter prices will be even higher next fall. Other networks sell typically 80%-85% of their time upfront.

ABC moved much faster than other broadcast networks. Advertising and network executives say CBS is holding out for fatter price increases and has so far sold less than a third of its inventory.

Cable networks are lagging, writing very little business so far.

ABC's sports for 2006 include the Super Bowl, while its prime time is looking up with hits including Desperate Housewives, Lost, and Grey's Anatomy.--John Eggerton contributed to this report.