Speaking on parent Comcast’s earnings call, NBCU CEO Steve Burke said the company finished upfront selling across all its broadcast and cable nets with volume up 10% to $7 billion and price increases of 9%. Prices for spots in NBC primetime shows like This is Us were up 14%. Cable network also saw double-digit pricing growth, he said.
Upfront ad demand at Fox Corp. was stronger than many executives anticipated, according to a person familiar with the matter. The volume of ad commitments for the primetime entertainment lineup on Fox Broadcasting — which includes 9-1-1 — increased in the high-single-digit percentage range over last year’s offerings, this person said. If Fox’s primetime entertainment volume rose in a range of 8% to 9% over last year, then the company could have secured between $1.6 billion and $1.82 billion, according to Variety estimates.
Spanish-language broadcaster Univision expects the volume of advance advertising commitments for its next programming cycle to rise after wrapping its negotiations in TV’s annual upfront market, according to a person familiar with the matter. This person says Univision saw its overall volume grow between 5% and 6% over last year’s efforts, driven in part by an influx of new advertisers and expanded budgets from current clients. The results represent Univision’s best from an upfront market in four years, this person added.
CBS expects the volume of advance advertising commitments placed against its next primetime schedule to rise 5% to 6%, according to a person familiar with the matter, and advance commitments placed against its latenight programming to increase 20% in the industry’s annual “upfront” marketplace. The figures show advertisers maintaining their position in one of the stalwarts of linear broadcast television at a time when more consumers are showing interest in streaming video they can watch at times of their own choosing.
The big broadcast networks should secure an increase in advance advertising commitments — somewhere in the mid-single-digit percentage range — for their fall primetime schedules, according to six executives familiar with the tone of negotiations. And there is a growing consensus that the figure could be more robust for the industry’s annual upfront sales season than it has been in several years.
The CW has closed its upfront advertising dealing for the 2019-2020 TV season quickly — just three weeks after its programming presentation — with strong 14% to 15% hikes in the cost-per-thousand adult viewer pricing and overall single-digit percentage gains in upfront dollar volume.
The TV upfront advertising market is busy, with big broadcast networks asking for double-digit percentage increases. Media-buying executives say TV networks are proposing big 15% to 20%+ increases in primetime cost-per-thousand viewer prices. According to media executives, marketers are estimated to be looking to settle for around 12%-13% hikes.
Media buyers have let some of the networks know what they want to buy earlier than usual and some deals have already been struck. Some sources indicated that ABC had already completed a handful of deals and that negotiations are well underway at NBC and CBS. Fox is said to be in the thick of things as well.
Blessedly brief, per usual, The CW rolled out a tight upfront presentation at New York City Center on Thursday morning. “Since we’re the final presentation,” noted ad sales EVP Rob Tuck, “we have the opportunity to distinguish The CW from every one you’ve seen thus far.” The network certainly did that with a runtime of less than 45 minutes, kicking things off with a playful reel of network personalities set to the Jonas Brothers’ single Cool — apparently the network’s theme song du jour.
Shari Redstone, the head of CBS’s parent company, didn’t take the stage during Wednesday’s upfront presentation, but at the party that followed she was met by a receiving line that included the incoming CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell, the CBS Sunday Morning anchor Jane Pauley and new CBS News President Susan Zirinsky. Last year at this time, then-CBS CEO Leslie Moonves was at war with Redstone over moves she’d made to bring about a merger between CBS and its sibling company, Viacom. This year, it was her party.
When the first output deal between Netflix and CW parents CBS and Warner Bros was announced in 2011, it was hailed as groundbreaking and, with its $1 billion windfall, a lifeline that may have helped save the then money-losing upstart network. The pact, re-uped by both sides in 2016 with some modifications, was up again this spring, and it’s not being renewed. The three new CW series — Batwoman, Nancy Drew and Riverdale spinoff Katy Keen— are being shopped for streaming deals individually by their respective studios.
Following through on plans articulated at TCA winter press tour, WarnerMedia emphasized its new strategic direction during a brisk upfront pitch, highlighting a more blended approach to the formerly drama-centric TNT and comedy-focused TBS.
CBS is defending its handling of a sexual harassment by Michael Weatherly, star of its drama series Bull. CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl said Wednesday that Weatherly “owned” his mistake and was apologetic and remorseful. Last year, CBS reached a $9.5 million confidential settlement with actress Eliza Dushku after she alleged on-set sexual comments from Weatherly made her uncomfortable.
“Our new lineup features both classic CBS shows and genres that viewers love, as well as some new series that push the boundaries of what you might expect from us,” CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl sad this morning before the network’s annual Upfronts breakfast in New York. “We are also saving some very strong series for the second part of the year as part of a strategy to roll out new and returning series throughout the season.”
At the same time that America’s biggest media companies are touting their new dramas and sitcoms, they are also talking up their plans for streaming platforms that will look a lot like Netflix.
“The boycotts themselves are not having a financial impact of any significance,” said the CEO of Fox Corp., the parent of Fox News Channel.
Get first looks at the genre thriller Emergence, starring Allison Tolman, the Cobie Smulders-led adaptation of the Stumptown graphic novel series and the 1980s-set Black-ish prequel series Mixed-ish.
ABC Entertainment, ABC News, ESPN, Freeform, FX Networks and National Geographic come together to illustrate the exhausting smorgasbord of Walt Disney Television.
Just like its competition this year, ABC is using “stability” as its buzzword for next season, as well as leaning into its female-centric brand. The company announced on Tuesday that its fall 2019 schedule will feature just three new scripted series, touting that it makes for the network’s “most stable schedule in over a decade.”
The World Series will air on Fox for the next 10 years, the network announced Monday at its annual upfront presentation. Alongside Alex Rodriguez, postseason regular Joe Buck announced the news to press and advertisers.
The network promotes TV veterans (Fran Drescher! Brian Williams!) while noting that it’s pushing back the start date of its streaming service.
After Disney acquired most of Rupert Murdoch’s entertainment empire, the fourth network goes back to its campy roots.
Questions remain, especially concerning upfront price inflation, messaging effectiveness, lower audiences and realistic commercial reduction of network schedules.
Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier has taken to saying that the relaunch of the broadcast network following the historic Disney-21st Century Fox transaction has turned Fox into a “startup company.” During Monday’s upfront presentation at the Beacon Theatre, the startup seams were showing at times as the new-model Fox unveiled a large slate of new shows for the 2019-20 season that amount to a number of swings in different directions.
As the broadcast networks unveil fall schedules amid plans for direct-to-consumer offerings, new targeting tools are taking the sales pitch of premium content (and, yes, brand safety) far beyond the 30-second spot.
Calling it the “largest initiative in our company’s history,” NBCU ad sales chief Linda Yaccarino painted the company’s upcoming streaming service as the only one to offer scale, brand safety and ad opportunities.
TV upfront revenues are forecast to climb 2.5%, with digital video upfront deals growing 20%, to around $45 billion to $50 billion, according to eMarketer. The upfront market for digital video platforms is set to climb nearly 20% to $4.39 billion. Upfronts will kick off in a few weeks.