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NBC Wrapping Up $1.9 Billion in Upfront Buys

Jun 5, 2008  •  Post A Comment

NBC Universal has largely completed its broadcast upfront negotiations, registering a small increase in dollar volume in a market that, while down, doesn’t appear to be as weak as dire forecasts had suggested.
NBC, which finished fourth in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic for the recently completed season, rang up commitments for ad buys totaling about $1.9 billion, up $100 million from last year, according to sources familiar with the activity. Prices on a cost-per-thousand-viewers (CPM) basis were up by mid to high single-digit percentages. NBC sold somewhat more inventory this year than it did a year ago.
ABC, which kicked off the upfront last week, and top-rated Fox are getting price increases of about 9% range, buyers and sellers say.
NBC changed its approach to the upfront this year, announcing a 52-week schedule at what it called an “infront” in April, weeks before the traditional May upfront week.
The early announcement of programming contributed to NBC’s ability to get deal commitments from some advertisers early, including a General Motors sponsorship for its new show “My Own Worst Enemy.”
Those deals enable NBC to take some ratings points out of the market, allowing it to push for higher prices for the rest of its inventory.
Last year, NBC kicked off the upfront with a huge deal with media buyer GroupM that encompassed broadcast, cable and other NBC Universal assets. This year, cable deals are being done separately.
Buyers have registered their spending plans with NBC Universal’s cable properties, and the demand suggests volume for cable could be up 5% to 7%, with much of that growth coming from broadcast, according to industry sources.
Some digital money also has been committed in the upfront, but many agencies are still buying broadcast and digital separately, so digital deals could stretch out into the summer.
NBC Universal could see a 70% gain in digital ad sales during the upfront, industry sources said.

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