ABC Upfront Registers 9% CPM Gains

by , May 31, 2011, 6:00 PM
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ABC and CW have been active in making some media agency upfront deals -- following Fox's move, now nearly completing its TV upfront market sales process.

ABC, running on the heels of broadcast leader Fox, has been making media agreements with CPM increases in the 9% to 10% range, according to media agency executives.

"ABC will look good for marketers -- especially when CBS comes out with its pricing," said one executive. Many executives expect CBS to be more aggressive, hoping to close deals in the higher range -- 12% or more, in regard to CPM increases.

TV network spokespeople would not comment about any upfront activities.

In a earnings conference call on May 3, Les Moonves, president and chief executive officer of CBS Corp., hinted that some deals -- early upfront deals -- have already been struck by the network: "There have been a couple which my head of sales told me I can't talk about, so I won't. But needless to say, any deal that we would have taken in April would be at a very, very good number, which gives me great confidence heading into the upfront."

Executives also note that CW has been making some deals -- mostly stirred because of movie company marketers, which like Fox, is driven by young-targeted viewership. Media executives say about 80% of all TV upfront media budgets -- with all networks -- have been registered. The bulk of the upfront deal-making should be concluded this week.

Fox -- as its usual strategy -- scored heavily with movie companies and automotive marketers late last week to get the market moving, according to media-buying executives. Fox has less prime-time inventory than other networks, which sometimes makes for valuable inventory for key marketers. Estimates are that Fox has closed its deals at a average of 11% increases on the cost per thousand viewers [CPM].

Fox has been pushing for media agencies to take makegood inventory for its shows in connection with its upfront deals, especially for the new fourth-quarter "American Idol"-like show, "The X Factor." Some rough estimates from media agencies have pegged the show to potentially grab a 5 rating among adults 18-49.

Fox had already been making deals linking its traditional TV deals with digital video platforms during last season's scatter marketplace.

If a TV show fails to hit its rating guarantee, some digital video makegood inventory -- like that which runs on Hulu -- is offered to marketers. Executives says all this frees up Fox to sell traditional TV inventory in the upcoming scatter market periods at continued big-price hikes.

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