In Depth

Fox Completes Upfront, Secures $1.98B to $1.99B in Commitments--Advertiser Appetites Whetted by 'X Factor,' 'New Girl'

By Brian Steinberg
Advertising Age

News Corp.'s Fox said Thursday it has completed the bulk of its sales for the upfront marketplace, with advertiser interest in the network's fall schedule fueled in large part by the much-anticipated U.S. launch of "X Factor," along with "New Girl," a new sitcom starring actress Zooey Deschanel.

In a prepared statement, the network said it had achieved "significant growth in both volume and pricing." Fox is the first of the broadcast networks to complete its upfront process.

Fox is expected to finish its upfront negotiating having secured advertising commitments of between $1.98 billion and $1.99 billion, according to a person familiar with the situation. In 2010, by comparison, Fox secured between $1.8 billion and $1.9 billion for its prime-time schedule, according to Advertising Age estimates. Fox has sold approximately 80% of its inventory in this upfront, according to this person, in line with the way it has operated in past sessions.

While ABC and CW have begun doing some business, according to ad buyers, marketers are pushing back against an initial call from CBS for an 18% hike in CPMs, a measure that looks at the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers, and a common metric in these types of negotiations. NBC was said by ad-buying executives to still be in the process of gathering budgets.

Fox completed its deals at CPMs ranging between 9.5% and 12%, according to ad buyers, with the bulk completed at between 10% and 11%.

Fox moved early in this year's upfront, echoing past behavior. For two years now, the network has opted to take a smaller-than-expected price hike in favor of driving dollar volume while rivals holding out for higher increases haggled.