TV's $10 Billion Ad Grab: Who's Winning Upfronts

CBS' "The Big Bang Theory"

UPDATED: CBS and NBC are up, ABC and Fox suffer drops as the early spoils go to ratings leaders.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

ABC, ↓6%

2013 total: $2.35B

2012 total: $2.5B


After finishing the season down 8 percent in the 18-to-49 demo, ABC struggled through a difficult upfront. But sources say sales head Geri Wang held the line on ad prices, citing the appeal of such shows as Grey's Anatomy and Scandal to 18-to-49 females. ABC also boasts buzzy new shows in Marvel's Agents of SHIELD and a few broad comedies. "I thought The Goldbergs looks good," says a major ad buyer. "I heard I wasn't the only one who bought that."

PHOTOS: ABC's 2013-14 Season: Marvel's 'SHIELD,' 'Once Upon a Time' Spinoff and 'Trophy Wife'

CBS, ↑8%

2013 total:  $2.7B

2012 total: $2.5B


The only network to improve its ratings last season is being rewarded with the biggest CPM increases and will rake in the most money of the Big Five. CBS finished 2012-13 with the most total viewers and highest average 18-to-49 rating for the first time since 1991-92. "It's a very solid lineup with very few surprises," says analyst Brad Adgate. "You know what you're going to get with CBS, and advertisers like that."

PHOTOS: CBS' 2013-14 Season: 'Hostages,' 'Intelligence,' 'Mom' and 'The Millers'

NBC, ↑17%

2013 total: $2.1B

2012 total: $1.8B


NBC had a Jekyll-and-Hyde season, winning 13 of the first 15 weeks before enduring a monstrous winter until The Voice returned. But the hit singing show and Sunday Night Football are helping boost revenue, and the network is benefiting from NBCUniversal's reorganization that put broadcast, cable and digital sales under Linda Yaccarino. Ad buyers also are excited about the Winter Olympics in February.

PHOTOS: NBC's 2013-14 Season: 'Blacklist,' 'Ironside,' 'About a Boy,' 'Believe,' and 'Sean Saves the World'

FOX, 10%

2013 total: $1.7B

2012 total: $1.9B


After eight American Idol-fueled seasons, Fox lost its 18-to-49 demo crown to CBS amid a 20 percent ratings slide. Ad buyers reacted with fewer commitments, though sources insist the network has increased sales to big-ticket auto and telecommunications clients. Fox is touting a revamped Idol, its hit Kevin Bacon drama The Following and limited series like 24: Live Another Day to drum up needed buzz.

PHOTOS: Fox's 2013-14 Season: 'Rake,' 'Sleepy Hollow,' 'Almost Human' and 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'


2013 total: $400M

2012 total: $400M


The smallest of the major broadcast networks suffered the same ratings erosion as the bigger players but held its own by packaging programs with digital and social media options. Buyers praise CW chief Mark Pedowitz for using these new platforms to expand the network's audience. "What The CW is doing online is really impactful," says one key buyer, "because it's important to the audience they want to reach."

PHOTOS: The CW's 2013-14 Season: 'The Originals,' 'Tomorrow People' and 'Reign'