CBS Completes Upfront, Estimates Prime-Time Revenues Could Hit $2.7 Billion

CBS has completed its upfront advertising selling with 3% to 5% revenue gains for its prime-time programming -- as well as inking mid-single-digit percentage volume improvements in other dayparts, according to media executives.

CBS is estimated to have pulled in $2.4 billion to $2.7 billion in total prime-time advertising revenue. Much of this came on the back of higher cost-per-thousand viewer (CPM) prices, up 12% to 15% over prices a year ago.

A CBS spokesman declined to comment about upfront deal-making.

Other dayparts -- news, sports, and daytime -- took in lessor “mid-single” digit percentage hikes in CPMs. NFL programming also inked deals with mid-single price gains.

However, CBS’ late-night programming, in particular, was the strongest non-prime-time daypart performer -- with upfront volume soaring 20% over a year ago. CPM pricing was up in the mid-teen percentages.



During the past year, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” not only maintained leading viewership among other broadcast late-night network competitors this past season, but also had growth among key advertisers’ 18-49 viewers.

The mid-teens increases in prime time have been pushed by all broadcast network TV sellers this upfront  -- to compensate, in part, for general reduction in overall prime-time rating points, roughly around 12% to 14%.

It is not known whether CBS sold more inventory in this upfront selling period versus a year ago.

Typically, TV networks sell around 70% to 75% of their ad inventory for the coming season in the upfront market, with the remainder to be sold in the scatter market or to be given to advertisers as makegoods for their ratings guarantees.

Overall, in prime time, CBS benefited from strong category increases in volume including insurance/financial, wireless and pharmaceutical companies.

CBS also witnessed growing direct-to-consumer (D2C) marketers moving more money into upfront buys. Those companies have been major scatter-market TV buyers of networks -- deals that occur on a month-by-month or quarter-by-quarter basis.

CBS also witness “significant” volume advertising growth in all its digital platforms -- including CBS All Access, CBS Sports HQ and CBSN, its news programming OTT platform.

Recently, CBS' sister network, The CW, completed its upfront ad deal process, rising by single-digit percentages in volume, from $580 million to $650 million, according to industry executives.

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