Analyst Lowers ABC, NBC Upfront Ad Pricing Estimates

With Fox having completed its advance ad sales, Miller Tabak's David Joyce updates his projections and says marketers may "focus on the top two networks."

NEW YORK - With Fox having finished its primetime upfront advertising sales, Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce on Friday slightly lowered his predictions for the kind of upfront sales price increases that ABC and NBC will fetch.

After all, Fox's upfront price increases of 10 percent to 11 percent compared to Joyce's previous estimate of 11.5 percent.

The analyst, however, expects CBS to hit his projected 12.5 percent price hikes in the upfront. The network, which once again won the total viewer race in the just-ended season, has asked for around 18 percent pricing increases in its opening upfront round.

"We think CBS could net at least the 12.5 percent increases we have been expecting, but also with an 80 percent inventory sale level," Joyce said. He projects a total upfront haul of nearly $2.93 billion for CBS, up 12.5 percent from an estimated $2.60 billion last year.

Meanwhile, ABC has the Dancing with the Stars franchise and is bringing back Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy this fall, "but advertiser buzz is that the schedule is less exciting and perhaps less cohesive than at CBS or Fox, but there are additional positives such as leveraging the very popular Modern Family and The Middle comedies into a larger comedy block," Joyce said in a report.

He reduced his upfront price increase estimate to 9.5 percent from 11 percent "as the high scatter market pricing may [lead advertisers to become] more discerning and focus on the top two networks." Joyce sees ABC's upfront haul at $2.65 billion, up 10.4 percent from $2.40 billion last year.

NBC might hold back slightly more upfront ad inventory "to hopefully let the new season and management prove itself and capitalize on the scatter market," the analyst suggested.

He cut his ad rate increase estimate from 10 percent to 9 percent and now expects NBC to sell 77.5 percent of its inventory instead of his prior 80 percent estimate. All this will yield $1.74 billion in upfront revenue, according to Joyce. That compares to $1.60 billion last year.

Including the CW and MyNetwork TV, Joyce projects  total broadcast upfront to amount to $9.9 billion this year, up 10.6 percent from last year.



Twitter: @georgszalai