ABC declined to comment on the story, but is expected to make an official announcement next week, after the Memorial Day Weekend. Typically, the network upfront marketplace does not begin until Memorial Day Weekend and usually wraps up by July 4th. However, there has been speculation of pent-up demand for ABC's prime-time inventory, which after several years of lackluster ratings, is considered to be bargain-priced relative to the other major broadcast networks.
However, at least two major agency media buyers told MDN they weren't nearly done with ABC, questioning how far along the network actually is.
"When you have only five or six major agencies out there and you've basically got an initial idea of what your clients want and what the prices are, it's easy to say you're done," said one media executive. "But seeing as Monday's Memorial Day and Friday is here, I can see how people are saying one down, three to go."
Another media executive said he was dubious about the claims.
"Last year, NBC said that they had wrapped up their upfront business before everyone else, and then it turned out nothing of the kind happened," the other media executive said. "I think there's a lot of pressure to advance the story and get all of the other agencies that they've done it."
In a variation on a theme, the other major broadcast networks--FOX, NBC, and CBS--are all, in the words of one network representative, "in discussions with media buyers, and are close to writing business."