ABC Wraps Upfront With Ad Commitments Estimated at $2.3 Billion to $2.4 Billion; Disney-Owned Network Secured $2.2 Billion in Last Year’s Haggling

Jun 9, 2011  •  Post A Comment

By Brian Steinberg
Advertising Age

Walt Disney’s ABC has completed its upfront negotiations, securing an estimated $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion in ad commitments.

In a prepared statement, the network said it had achieved "significant increases in pricing" and saw "positive response" from advertisers that "helped drive great volume across the board."

According to ad buyers and other people familiar with negotiations, ABC was doing deals that called for price increases in the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers, also known as a CPM, in a range of 10% to 12% over last year. That more or less matches the price hikes just achieved by the CW network and News Corp.’s Fox, both of which have already wrapped their own "upfront" bargaining, when the big TV networks sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming TV season.

One ad buyer estimated ABC had seen a 7% to 8% uptick in the volume of commitments it was able to secure in this year’s negotiations, which would put the network at between $2.3 billion and $2.4 billion for its prime-time schedule. The network secured about $2.2 billion in prime-time commitments last year, according to Advertising Age estimates, with deals completed that called for CPM increases of 8% to 9%.

The amount of inventory ABC sold in the upfront and how much it has reserved for "scatter," or advertising sold later in the year, could not be immediately determined. Fox sold about 80% of its inventory for the fall, while CW sold between 75% and 80%. The figures may offer a guideline for how ABC is managing its inventory.

Money discussed during the upfront is promised, not paid when the deals are struck. Advertisers can pull their orders as schedules change and have options to take money back at certain points during the year if necessary.

CBS and NBC have been steadily writing business all week and are believed to be close to wrapping talks as well, according to media buyers.

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