Upfront 2017-18: Cable Rose by 1%; Broadcast Up 2%

The 2017-18 upfront TV market was a strong one, with gross media spending on broadcast up 2% and cable up 1%, according to new figures from Standard Media Index.

Accounting for the upfront is an imprecise science, with media buyers and network sellers jockeying for position. Few reliable numbers are available.

Now with the 2017-18 broadcast year ended, and the new season begun, Standard Media Index, which gets its figures from the buying computers at most of the big media agencies, offers a revealing look at how much was spent on commercial time and when it was purchased.

SMI said spending on cable TV in the 2017-18 upfront was $18.2 billion, up 1% from the 2016-17 upfront.

For the broadcasters, $13.7 billion in media was purchased in the upfront, up 2%

SMI says advertisers bought $4.2 billion of broadcast advertising in the scatter market, down 3% from the previous year and $7.9 billion worth of cable advertising, up 1%.

The figures are considerably bigger than the ones most often reported by the media and by securities analysts. For example, Media Dynamics reported last July that upfront spending for broadcast was up 4.1% to $9.1 billion and cable was up 7.6% to $10.6 billion.

SMI says its figures are higher because they include all dayparts and sports on broadcast and 150 cable networks.

The upfront market for the 2018-19 season was also reported to be a strong one. Media Dynamics pegged broadcast growing 5.8% and cable adding 4.7% for a 5.2% total increase in spending commitments.

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.