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Networks Post Hefty Upfront Gains

After a slow start, the upfront market is rapidly drawing to a close with the networks posting healthy increases compared to last year.

Fox – the No. 1 network in the 18-49 demographic – had its best upfront yet with close to $1.9 billion, a 5 percent increase over last year. 

ABC also increased its upfront revenue by more than 5 percent  compared to last year, posting double-digit CPM increases in news, early morning, and daytime with an estimated $2.4 billion.

CBS is nearly done with its upfront deals as well, expected to post increases in the high single digits for an estimated take of $2.5 billion.

The hefty increases are a far cry from the flat to one or two percent gains that many network executives and buyers were predicting for the overall market this year.

“To buy at the same media weight that you did a year ago you have to buy more units,” said one analyst. “A lot of it’s done on speculation. A lot of it is [that] you don’t want to miss the market. There is still a frenzy about it.”

Fourth-place NBC kicked off the buying season last week with a lucrative, wide-ranging deal with Group M that includes all of the network’s dayparts and platforms as well as the full roster of NBC Universal cable channels..

The market started slowly due to haggling over metrics. But in the end, networks and advertisers – in the overwhelming majority of deals – agreed on live-plus-three commercial minutes.