NBCU Posts Big Gains In Upfront Ad Sales

NBCUniversal has substantially completed its upfront ad sales, reporting sizable gains in a market that was otherwise described as weak.

Across its portfolio of assets, including broadcast, cable and digital, NBCU sold about $6 billion worth of advertising commitments, up from $5.4 billion a year ago, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

The NBC broadcast network, which jumped to first place from a long spell in the basement, garnered sales of more than $2.5 billion, up from $2.25 billion last year, sources said. Those figures include all broadcast dayparts including sports. Looking at entertainment programming only, sales were up 15%.

“We are very pleased to have led the market in both rate of change and volume growth this upfront. We also have made tremendous progress in correcting our historic monetization gaps,” NBCU CEO Steve Burke said in a statement. “Through significant investments in our programming, the turnaround at NBC and our strategy to approach the market as one portfolio, we are confident that we are well positioned as leaders moving forward.”

During its losing streak, broadcast ad prices as measured by cost per thousand viewers, or CPMs, fell behind its rivals. During this year’s upfront, NBC secured price increases in the 7.5% to 8% range market sources said. CBS and ABC, which completed their upfront sales over the past two weeks, managed smaller price increases, but on larger bases.

(Photo Credit: NBC's A to Z, Trae Patton/NBC)

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.