ABC Finishes Upfront, Takes in $2.3 Billion for Primetime

Jul 5, 2006  •  Post A Comment

ABC has completed its upfront advertising sales, increasing sales of prime-time slots almost 10 percent compared with last year to $2.3 billion.

The network said it got price increases of 3 percent to 4 percent on a cost-per-thousand-viewers basis and sold 75 percent to 80 percent of its inventory. The prime-time figure includes ABC’s Saturday night college football games and NASCAR races in prime time, the network said Wednesday in a statement.

With hot shows including “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost,” ABC was expected to be the leader in the upfront. Instead, it got bogged down in a dispute over whether delayed viewing of shows on digital video recorders should be included in ad sales negotiations. ABC backed down and included only live viewing in sales for the upcoming season.

When ABC finally began selling ad time, ad buyers said the network was able to secure price increases of only 1 percent to 2 percent and that rival networks were snaring some business that might have gone to ABC. ABC’s final numbers signal that its sales strategy, engineered by ad sales chief Mike Shaw, didn’t hurt it much.

Including ad slots outside of prime time, ABC collected more than $3 billion in upfront sales, the network said. The company said it would benefit further in the scatter market, where advertising is purchased closer to airtime.

“Based on ABC’s scatter negotiations this past season, (which yielded double-digit increases in all dayparts) and our new entries and success in the digital arena and integrated programming, ABC is well positioned to take advantage of the scatter marketplace,” the network said in a statement.