CBS, CW Strike First In Upfront TV Deals

CBS and CW have been first in upfront TV deal-making — completing virtually all intended upfront advertising selling with higher overall dollar volume.

CBS has garnered mid-to-high single-digit percentage pricing gains -- the cost per thousand viewer pricing (CPMs) -- in prime time, with volume even with 2016, but higher volume overall, according to executives. Last year, estimates were CBS pulled in around $2.5 billion in upfront deals.

Media executives had been expecting a 3% to 4% decline in overall national TV upfront spending. This was after last year’s strong performance, when the market was up 4.5% to $18.6 billion, according to Media Dynamics, looking at all broadcast and cable networks.

CBS is virtually done with all major agencies. There are some smaller agencies' deal-making left to complete. CBS earned strong upfront business in categories including consumer products, pharmaceuticals and quick-service restaurants.

A majority of CBS upfront deals were done based on guarantees on the Nielsen C7 metric, the average commercial minute ratings plus seven days of time-shifted viewing.



Many TV networks have pushed for more C7 deals, versus C3, in an effort to monetize more time-shifted viewing. Industry estimates going into this upfront market were that about half of national TV broadcast deals have been guaranteed on C3 data.

Additionally, executives say CBS made a number of C35 deals -- the average commercial minute rating plus 35 days of time-shifted viewing.

Upfront TV advertising deals are made for the entire TV season. It starts in September and runs through May (when the season official ends) and then into the summer -- before the TV season commences. A network typically sells anywhere from 65% to 85% of their overall inventory during the upfront.

Non-prime-time dayparts for CBS posted the strongest overall results -- with morning, daytime and late-night dayparts earning high single-digit to low-double-digit percentage CPM pricing, as well as double-digit percentage volume gains.

CW, the network co-owned by Warner Bros and CBS, earned high-single digit/low-double digit percentage hikes on CPMs with overall volume 3% to 5% higher. Estimates are CW totaled anywhere from $500 million to $550 million in upfront commitments.

A CBS spokesperson and CW rep declined to comment.

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