WarnerMedia Completes Upfront With Record Ad Commitments

Jason Kilar WarnerMedia Upfront
CEO Jason Kilar during WarnerMedia's virtual upfront

WarnerMedia said it completed its negotiation with the major media buying agencies and secured a company record amount of commitments from advertisers.

This year’s upfront generated high prices because falling ratings meant a lack of supply in the market. At the same time, many businesses were looking to resume advertising as the effects of the pandemic and the resulting economic slowdown lessened.

WarnerMedia JP Colaco Upfront

JP Colaco (Image credit: AT&T)

Broadcast and sports were among the most in-demand media, and NBCUniversal, The Walt Disney Co. and Fox moved quickly to take advantage of a rush by buyers to get money down to secure scarce inventory.

Broadcasters were reportedly seeing price increases on a cost-per-thousand viewers basis in the 19% to 22% range.

WarnerMedia, with its cable inventory, took longer to finish deals. It was unclear how big the price increases it was able to secure were. Similarly, ViacomCBS, which has a huge cable portfolio, finished its upfront deals on Tuesday and Discovery is still conducting negotiations.

In addition to its cable inventory, WarnerMedia is selling the ad supported version of its HBO Max streaming service.

“We are deeply appreciative of how favorably the marketplace responded to that message, with significant demand for all of our properties, from our stellar linear networks to our growth engines like digital and the best-in-class streaming service, HBO Max,” said JP Colaco, head of advertising sales, WarnerMedia. “Today is just the start of how we are working together with customers to unlock greater possibilities and maximize results, while uniting their valuable messages with solutions that connect to the right consumers at the right time, on all screens,”

“Our goal each upfront isn’t about finishing first, it’s about putting our customers first,” added Katrina Cukaj, lead of ad sales and client partnerships, WarnerMedia. “We remain hyper-focused on taking the right amount of time to listen and understand each of our customer’s distinct goals, to develop meaningful partnerships that resonate and deliver their desired outcomes.”

Cukaj added that WarnerMedia added several new brands as upfront advertisers.

AT&T has agreed to spin off WarnerMedia and merge it with Discovery. The deal has not yet been finalized and both companies conducted their upfront negotiations separately.

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.