ViacomCBS Finishes Upfront At 'Historic Pricing'

Similar to other major TV network-based media companies, ViacomCBS completed a strong upfront deal-making period for the 2021-2022 TV season at “historic pricing,” according to media executives.

ViacomCBS is estimated to have taken in gains similar to other TV network companies that closed upfront deals earlier this month in the range of 20% or so in cost-per-thousand (CPM) viewers.

ViacomCBS had no comment on its upfront sales activities.

Two years ago, for the 2019-2020 TV season in the upfront ad market that took place before the COVID-19 pandemic began, CBS was estimated to have pulled in $2.4 billion to $2.7 billion in total prime-time advertising revenue.

This time around, looking at a broader picture of its linear and digital platforms, one executive said ViacomCBS’ EyeQ -- its premium digital video sell-side platform for properties -- including Paramount+, its new video-on-demand platform and Pluto TV, its free-ad supported video streamer -- “drove significant investment.”



Earlier this month, TV network groups witnessed upfront recent deal-making with a 20% to 30% shift of their linear TV upfront budgets to their streaming/digital platforms.

In particular, ViacomCBS saw advertisers transitioning digital spending to “content bundles of like-to-like groupings of programming” mirroring its linear TV programming, giving marketers key added reach and scale.

Upfront categories for ViacomCBS that have been moving strongly include travel, movie studios, and new direct-to-consumer marketers.

For the full-year 2020, advertising revenue -- for all ViacomCBS businesses -- was down 8% to $4.7 billion.

For the previous upfront TV market completed -- last summer, just before the start of the current TV season -- advertising revenues for all national TV networks netted a totaled $18.6 billion. That was down from the total of $21.9 billion for the previous season, according to Media Dynamics.

Media Dynamics estimated that of the $21.9 billion made in upfront commitments for the 2019-20 season, $3 billion was cancelled during the year, largely due to pandemic disruptions.

Upfront deals are typically made before the start of the September to August TV season, where 70% or so of national TV networks' yearly inventory is sold to marketers ahead of time.

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