NBC wraps lucrative upfront

Peacock nabs $1.9 billion in ad sales as the CW closes in on $370 mil

In a marketplace that has more advertiser dollars in play than many had predicted, NBC has completed its upfront negotiations for all dayparts. The network had sold off its inventory at mid- to high-single-digit cost-per-thousand increases and taking in $1.9 billion in primetime ad dollars, up $100 million from last year's upfront.

Meanwhile, the CW is expected to complete its upfront deals as early as tonight, taking in about $370 million for the 10 hours it programs and garnering an average of 8% CPM increases.

Media buyer sources said NBC primetime deals averaged about 5% price hikes, while some of the other dayparts, particularly morning, were higher.

Although the amount of ad dollars advertisers wanted to put down was in the same range as last year's upfront, NBC was able to grow its primetime haul by selling about 80% of its available inventory, about 4% more than last year. The move limits NBC's exposure to the scatter market in an uncertain economy.

An NBC source said the network's decision to present a 65-week schedule in early April also helped it in taking in more upfront dollars.

"We were able to start our discussion early and to get some early commitments that we eventually turned into actual deals in the upfront," the source said.

NBC's primetime packages are said to include "dozens of product integrations" and many digital extensions and "360-degree cross-platform deals tied into broadcast network shows." The network estimated that it increased the amount of digital ad dollars by about 70%-75%, albeit off a smaller base.

Meanwhile, the NBC Universal sales team decided to wait on doing any deals for their four cable networks — Bravo, USA, Oxygen and Sci Fi Channel — to get a better read on the cable marketplace.

The CW is taking in the same ratio of primetime dollars as it did last year, when it bagged $570 million for 15 hours.

The network recently eliminated one-third of its weekly programming by giving up its five-hour Sunday lineup to Media Rights Capital. Under the terms of that deal, the CW sales staff is expected to sell ad time for the 5-10 p.m. block, which it has not started to do yet. Those dollars will be MRC revenue, but the CW will be compensated in some way for its sales efforts.

Media buyers said the CW received heavy ad-dollar interest for its Monday-Friday block from its traditional core categories — movie companies, wireless, retail and health and beauty products firms. The CW was able to garner higher than anticipated CPMs because it had fewer hours to sell, tightening available inventory, and also because it had less gross ratings points to sell because of its softer ratings. Despite those negatives, there were a large number of advertisers who wanted to buy into such shows as "Gossip Girl," "One Tree Hill" and the new drama "90210," looking to reach younger female viewers.
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