By Brian Steinberg
The CW has completed its upfront sales process, notching between $400 million and $420 million in ad commitments from marketers for its coming TV season, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The figures illustrate how TV networks are getting a more robust nod from big advertisers. Last year, the network, jointly owned by CBS Corp. and Time Warner, secured between $370 million and $404 million. Where the network did deals that called for increases in the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers, the metric known as the CPM, at around 7.5% last year, CW was able to secure pacts in this session with CPM increases ranging between 10% and 12%, according to the person familiar with the negotiations.
CW sold between 75% and 80% of its ad inventory for the new season, choosing to hold the rest in reserve to sell as "scatter," or ad inventory sold closer to the air date.
The network is heading into a new era, with a new senior executive overseeing its operations. Mark Pedowitz, a longtime ABC executive, recently came in as the network’s new president, while Dawn Ostroff, the outlet’s longtime entertainment chief, said she would step down.
The network saw increased interest in its ability to package TV ad time along with online ad inventory from its streaming-video site, CWTV.com, according to the person familiar with the situation.
CBS, ABC and NBC continue to haggle in the marketplace, while cable networks appear to be registering budgets. Time Warner’s Turner has made an initial offer to advertisers with CPM increases of 14% to 15%. News Corp.’s Fox is the only other network to finish its upfront dealing so far.
Upfront commitments should not be confused for actual ad revenue. Advertisers make an initial promise before the season starts, but a good portion of any marketer’s actual outlay can change as shows are cancelled or rearranged on a schedule or as ratings guarantees fall below agreed-upon levels.