Fox Upfront Commitments Fall 10 Percent to About $1.6 Billion


The network realized smaller ad rate gains due to declining "American Idol" and not enough new hits.

Fox is close to selling out its primetime upfront inventory for the 2014-15 television season. And like last year, the network is down about 10 percent in dollar volume, putting it at around $1.6 billion compared to last year's upfront haul of $1.8 billion.

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Fox finished the season even with last year in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic (even with a record-breaking Super Bowl). But the network realized smaller CPM (cost per thousand viewers) gains of between 2.5 and 3.5 percent thanks to the falling ratings of onetime juggernaut American Idol and few new hits save for Sleepy Hollow to shore up its performance.

The network, which does not program 10 p.m. so has fewer gross ratings points to sell at the outset, sold about 75 to 80 percent of its inventory. A good portion of those deals were done based on C7 — commercial ratings with seven days of delayed viewing. Executives at Fox, like those at rival broadcast networks, pushed for significant deals on more days of delayed viewing this season. And Fox — which has a slightly younger audience profile than CBS, NBC and ABC — was especially keen to write business on C7. Sleepy Hollow and The Following were among the network's series that gained significantly when seven days of delayed viewing were accounted for. And next season, Fox will have the buzzy Batman drama Gotham, which seems poised to become another DVR and VOD favorite.

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Of course, the completion of Fox's upfront business comes in the wake of the resignation of Fox entertainment chief Kevin Reilly. Company executives have yet to name a replacement. But ad buyers were bullish on Fox's 2014-15 schedule, which also includes young-adult drama Red Band Society and high-concept unscripted entry Utopia.

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