TV Upfront Ads: 20% Gains In Broadcast CPMs, But Volume Down 13% From 2019

The almost completed traditional TV upfront witnessed strong average 19% gain in prime-time broadcast CPM -- the cost per thousand users -- and 10% higher for cable TV nets for the upcoming 2021-2022 TV season, according to Media Dynamics.

But total upfront dollar volume this year -- $19.04 billion for broadcast and cable TV networks -- is still under the levels of 2019, down a collective 13%, according to the media consulting company.

The $19 billion level is up 2.2% over a year ago for the 2020-2021 TV season -- a disruptive pandemic-laden TV ad selling season.

While the pandemic was a major issue -- where marketers spent less than the previous years -- media analysts also point to shifting dollars to streaming platforms from linear.

This is something TV networks encouraged before the start of the upfront negotiations this season. Media agency executives report TV networks asking marketers to shift as much as 20% to 30% of their linear TV budgets to streaming.



Ed Papazian, president of Media Dynamics, says: “While some sellers tried to press the buyers to allocate up to 30% of their upfront buys to the sellers' AVOD services or "sponsor" sales made on their websites — and both scored increases in upfront volume — much of this was already budgeted and not necessarily part of the planned ‘linear TV’ spending.”

Going forward for the scatter marketplace, Papazian adds: "Some sellers offered fewer GRPs for sale in the latest upfront in order to capitalize on the very high scatter CPMs that are expected for the upcoming fourth quarter."

Breaking down some of the numbers, the broadcast TV prime-time upfront grew 6.9% from a year ago to $9.3 billion; with cable TV network slipping 2% to $9.7 billion. In 2019, broadcast TV network were at $10.2 billion; cable TV, $11.7 billion.

Estimated broadcast prime-time CPMs for buying audiences 18 years and older grew 19.4% over the 2020-2021 TV season to an average $45.03; cable TV was up 9.7% to $21.83.

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