ABC Wraps Upfront Sales

10:02 AM PST 06/09/2011 by Marisa Guthrie
ABC/KAREN NEAL

The network wins double-digit price increases for close to $2.4 billion in upfront commitments.

ABC has wrapped its upfront negotiations, the company confirmed Thursday.

The network averaged 11 to 12 percent price increases for $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion in commitments, according to industry estimates.

ABC -- which finished last season in third place in the 18-49 demographic (behind Fox and CBS) and total viewers (behind CBS and Fox) -- still has television’s top-rated drama in Grey’s Anatomy and Modern Family is TV’s highest-rated comedy. But Grey’s is also among the network’s aging hits. Next season, ABC will introduce a hefty slate of eight dramas and five comedies. It is the first development slate from entertainment president Paul Lee and comes in the wake of a lackluster 2010-11 season marked but no new hits.

ABC is the third network to wrap upfront negotiations. Top-rated Fox finished first with an estimated volume of $1.9 billion up slightly compared to last year. Last week, the CW wrapped its upfront negotiations with $400 million-$420 million in volume, also up compared to last year.

In a statement, ABC pointed to top-rated Grey’s and Modern Family and “many buzz-worthy new additions,” characterizing its upcoming schedule as “equal parts stability and ambition.”

“ABC has concluded its upfront negotiations, achieving significant increases in pricing,” read the statement. “This positive response helped drive great volume across the board, and across all dayparts, and reinforced the confidence that national advertisers have in the power of ABC.”

The economic recovery has lifted upfront pricing across the board. NBC and CBS are close to wrapping negotiations. And when the final tally is in, the broadcast networks are expected to reap more than $9 billion in upfront sales.

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