Upfront: Money In The Network Bank
Buyers contacted Thursday said the broadcasts were getting increases in the mid-teens for primetime, with The WB "closer to 20" and the rest of the bigger networks delivering increases of 13% to 14%. That's well above the revisionist predictions of increases of between 6%-7% and beyond even the optimism that had seized everyone before the war in Iraq and network executives afterward. The networks were, just as they predicted, reaping big benefits so far.
"Right now, given the size of the dollars in the marketplace, it seems like they're all winners right now," said one buyer who declined to be identified.
"We're very, very, very optimistic and we think by the end of this week and next it will be done," NBC Entertainment Chairman Jeff Zucker said Wednesday afternoon. Fox Entertainment Chairman Sandy Grushow said his network was seeing volume increases of upwards of 20% and one network president that the upfront could be finished by today.
Kris Magel, SVP/group director at media-buying company Optimedia, confirmed that the broadcast upfront was going quickly and said it could be over by the end of the week. He also confirmed that cost increases were higher than anticipated and there had been more demand than had been anticipated, too.
One rumor in the marketplace was that advertisers are overbuying, hedging their bets against getting burned in the scatter market later on. Magel said that no one had the complete answer.
"The broadcast networks have been trying to figure that out, too," Magel said.
Magel said the strong upfront market is good for some advertisers and not as good for others, with some able to get more efficient rates buying in the upfront than they would in the scatter market later on. He said that it's possible that if advertisers did over buy, there would be a lot of cancellations later on and that perhaps the scatter market will still go for a premium but not the extreme level that it had been earlier.
"It's very hard to predict that right now," Magel said.