CW Poised to Complete Upfront Sales, With 11% Increase; ABC, CBS Also Up

The eye is seeing 14% increases; ABC is 11% over last year

The CW is poised to complete its upfront selling by the of day Friday, garnering an average price increase for primetime ad inventory of 11 percent over last year, persons familiar with the negotiations told TheWrap.

At the same time, CBS has began doing primetime sales deals with increases in the 14 percent range. And ABC was said to be doing some early primetime deals averaging 11 percent and has completed business with one major media agency, who sources would not identify.

Also read: Upfront Wrap-Up: What Media Buyers Think of the New Fall Shows

CBS had initially gone to market seeking price increases of 18 percent for primetime ad inventory — but that was just considered a starting point for negotiations. The network averaged the most viewers per night of any broadcast network this past season, with 11.9 viewers per night, and was second to Fox among viewers 18-49 with a 2.9 rating.

Those familiar with the situation at CBS, said negotiations are expected to be slow because the network is not going to budge much from that 14 percent rate hike it did in its first deals.

The CW, which was the second broadcast network to complete its negotiations last year, following Fox, apparently will be the second network to finish its upfront deals this year, also after Fox.

Executives from the CW, CBS and ABC would not comment.

A plus in helping trigger the early business for the CW was a strong response to its new shows by media buyers, and its convergence platform online, where the network airs all of its episodes including commercials.

Convergence has been popular among advertisers because 93 percent of all those viewing CW shows online, are first time viewers of those shows and have not seen them before on the TV network.

Fox was the first network to complete its upfront dealings earlier this week. The network averaged 11 percent cost per thousand increases and took in more than $2 billion in upfront ad dollars.

The other broadcast networks were angered by Fox's decision, as the ratings leader in the advertiser desired 18-49 demo ratings, to take a lower than expected percentage of increase. That makes it harder for the other networks to garner higher rate hikes in what is seen as a seller's marketplace.

But Fox took a prudent strategy for reaching its own bottomline projections. Since the network has the fall season's most anticipated new show in X-Factor, it is expected that the show will generate high ratings and give Fox more rating points to sell. With more commercial avails, the network can sell more ads at lower price increases, bringing in more dollar revenue.

The other networks will be dealing with a decreasing amount of rating points so they will want to charge more of a percentage increase to meet their revenue goals.

Media agencies are using the Fox numbers as a negotiating chip, reasoning that if the number one network in the 18-49 demo is doing deals averaging 11 percent, then the networks with ratings lower than that should be charging less.

CBS has been the most steadfast in seeking mid-double digit rate increases for its primetime inventory. The network has seven of the top 10 highest rated scripted dramas in the 18-49 demo and two of the Top 5 or four of the Top 10 sitcoms in that demo. And media buyers have praised their new shows, believing that several of them — particularly "2 Broke Girls" and "Unforgettable" — will be successful in the coming season.

Persons familiar with the negotiations told TheWrap that CBS is telling buyers that if they are not willing to pay in the 14 percent price hike range that the network has established in early deals, that it will hold onto its ad inventory and sell it in the scatter market during the season.

NBC has not done any upfront deals yet, according to sources, but the network took in $1.6 billion in last year's upfront, and eventually is going to get its deals done. Buyers told TheWrap that their priority right now is to complete as many deals with the Top Three broadcast networks as possible, before moving on to Number Four NBC.