In Depth

Fox Finishes Upfront Talks, Sees Deal Total Decline -- Network Secures Price Hikes Between 2.5% and 3.5%

By Jeanine Poggi
Advertising Age

Fox has completed its upfront negotiations for ad time in the upcoming TV season, with as much as a 15% drop in dollar volume and lackluster price hikes, according to a person familiar with negotiations.

Fox secured anywhere from $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion in upfront commitments, down from the $1.8 billion it secured in 2013, according to Ad Age estimates. The decline comes on top of last year's 10% drop in volume.

The network negotiated a large portion of its business on a C7 basis with multiple agencies, meaning it will get paid for commercials viewed within a seven days of airing instead of the recent industry standard of three days, according to the person.

That switch may have made it harder to extract big price hikes from ad buyers. The network secured increases in the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers of 2.5% to 3.5%, down from the 5% to 7% range it was able to secure last year, according to the person.

Fox sold about 75% to 80% of its available inventory for the upcoming season, on par with years prior. It will sell the rest of its ad time in the so-called scatter market, closer to the air date.

The broadcaster ended the season in last place among the Big Four in total viewers, averaging 7.4 million total viewers in prime time, up 4% from last year.

Fox heads into next season without Kevin Reilly, chairman of entertainment, who will be leaving the company at the end of June.

There's also the question of "American Idol." Mr. Reilly said during Fox's upfront presentation last month that the reality singing competition would receive a makeover heading into next year, potentially shrinking the number of hours.

CBS, NBC and ABC have also largely wrapped up negotiations.