Broadcast Networks Writing Upfront Business

CBS, Fox and NBC have begun writing upfront advertising business.

Earlier this week the other big broadcast networks made a deal with GroupM, the largest media buyer, on using C7 ratings as the currency for ad deals. C7 includes delayed viewing of commercials for seven days after a live broadcast.

NBC, which finished in first place among the broadcast networks in the adults 18 to 49 demographic after 10 years in the basement, is doing deals at prices about 8% higher than last year on a cost-per-thousand viewer basis, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Because of its long period of ratings problems, NBC’s ad price had fallen behind the other networks, making it a more efficient buy in this year's upfront when it has a better ratings story to tell. That’s contributing to what’s expected to be higher than average CPM gains.

Many of the NBC deals are being made as part of the larger NBCUniversal portfolio, including cable network and digital properties.

There’s a different story at Fox, which tumbled out of first place in the demo ratings. Last year, Fox’s upfront volume dropped by more than 10%. With its shorter primetime and younger viewership, Fox is usually the first network to start to sell in the upfront. In deals mainly with movie studios, CPM increases at Fox are lower than last year’s 5%-7%, according to market sources.

CBS has the most watched broadcast network, but its ratings in the adult 18 to 49 demographic, was down during the season.  Despite that, executives including CBS CEO Les Moonves predicted that CBS would grab the biggest price increases and the most volume during the upfront market.

Calls to ABC were not immediately returned.

(Photo Credit: Left: NBC's A to Z, Trae Patton/NBC; Right: CBS' The McCarthys, Sonja Flemming/CBS)

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.