By Jeanine Poggi
NBC has wrapped its upfront negotiations, securing $2.1 billion in advertising commitments, a 20% increase from last year, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The broadcast network’s ad inventory this year was bundled together for the first time with NBCUniversal’s cable and digital assets, which delayed completion of the talks. NBC had all but completed deals by mid-June in 2012.
NBC brought in about $1.72 billion to $1.74 billion in last year’s negotiations.
The Peacock Network secured increases in the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers — the measure known in the industry as the CPM — between 7% and 8%, according to the source. Last year, NBC did some deals with increases of 7%, but a majority represented price hikes in the range of 5% to 6%.
NBC sold slightly more inventory than it did last year, when it made available 80% of the ad time in its upcoming TV season.
The figures mean NBC comes in behind CBS, which brought in $2.5 billion to $2.75 billion in ad commitments at this year’s upfront market, where TV networks negotiate with ad buyers for commercial time in the approaching season. CBS’s dollar volume was in line with the prior two upfronts, according to a person familiar with the situation. The Eye Network notched price hikes similar to NBC’s, between 7% and 8%.
ABC is still wrapping up deals, with media buyers claiming the network has been holding out for price hikes between 7% and 8%, higher than the 6% to 7% increases it saw last year.
This year’s upfront selling season has looked very different than in years prior. After an early start, broadcasters hit an impasse with media buyers skeptical of the price hikes being sought. While Fox, The CW and CBS essentially wrapped dealmaking by mid-June, NBC and ABC extended their business beyond the July 4 weekend, which in recent years has been the informal deadline for broadcast negotiations.
Top cable programmers like Turner Broadcasting, Discovery Communications and A&E Networks have also wrapped up negotiations in the last few weeks.
About $800 million is expected to have disappeared from the broadcast prime time upfront, compared with last year’s market, due in part to weak broadcast ratings that have left the networks with smaller audiences to promise advertisers. While some of these dollars may have shifted to cable and digital, media buyers say clients are holding back money that may eventually resurface in the so-called scatter market, where advertisers buy commercial time close to the air date.