Now two major media groups -- NBCUniversal and now Fox Networks, both of which have broadcast and cable networks -- are pushing to sell all TV networks, broadcast and cable, in combined media deals -- at least as much as possible.
Fox Networks, CBS and CW have completed their upfront deals this year; NBCUniversal and ABC are still looking to finish.
Key for these networks is what comes next. Typical weak upfront markets mean networks decide to sell less inventory (68% to 70% of all their commercial supply) than they do in more robust marketplaces (where it can range from 75% to 80%).
Vijay Jayant of Evercore ISI estimates that this year broadcast networks will sell 69% of their inventory upfront, compared to 73% a year ago; cable networks will sell 49%, down from 51% a year ago.
Lower sales this year again are predicated on the expectation that scatter pricing will be higher than what’s grabbed during the upfront market. For this upfront, Jayant says broadcast will average weak 1.9% average increases on the cost per thousand viewers; cable will get 2.9%.
To be sure, TV-media equity analysts will be looking for more answers, or “guidance” -- proper parlance from senior \media executives, during second and third quarter earnings calls.
And next year? Don’t be surprised if all media companies look to add in more pools of revenue into their upfront volume disclosures -- broadcast, cable, sports, daytime, syndication, digital and otherwise -- to offer up a better picture from their perspective.