Disney Closes Out Upfront with $9 Billion in Ad Commitments

Rita Ferro Disney Upfront 2022
Disney Ad Sales President Rita Ferro at Disney's upfront presentation (Image credit: Disney Ad Sales)

The Walt Disney Co. said it completed its upfront deals with the major media holding companies, registering commitments to buy a record $9 billion in advertising across entertainment, streaming sports and inclusive programming.

Disney Advertising said the market was driven by live events, the upcoming ad-supported tier of Disney Plus, and addressable and measurement offerings.

Disney’s announcement came two weeks after most of the other programmers completed their negotiations. NBCUniversal, Paramount, Fox and The CW registered results that were healthy if not as strong as last year’s post-pandemic market. 

Also: NBCUniversal Says Upfront Sales Were Record-Setting

Warner Bros. Discovery has not yet said it is done with its upfront machinations. The newly combined company is said to be seeking bigger price increases than its competitors and it appears to be meeting some resistance from buyers.

For Disney, volume was up from last year across the board, according to the company, with double-digit volume increase in sports for the second year in a row. The gains were helped by an increase in women’s sports programming.

Also: Stars Shine Bright at Disney Upfront

Prices on a cost-per-thousand viewers basis were up by double digits in prime and high single digits for addressable -- or digital -- inventory.

Disney said that about 40% of its upfront dollars came from streaming and digital, led by Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu. All of the major agencies bought packages that included Disney Plus.

All of the major holding companies also made commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion programming and other opportunities.

Categories that fueled the market for Disney Advertising included diversified consumer services, financial services, media & entertainment, pharmaceutical, sports gaming and travel & leisure.

“Disney Advertising entered our 2022-2023 Upfront committed to executing on our strategic priorities - streaming, multicultural and inclusion, sports and entertainment – and we delivered,” said Rita Ferro, president of advertising sales, Disney Media and Entertainment. “This marks a historic close to our strongest Upfront ever, totaling $9 billion. I am proud to partner with all of our clients to reach audiences at scale across all screens, and alongside the most premium content.” ■

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.