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Disney Wraps Upfront Ad Sales as ESPN Lands Double-Digit Revenue Increases

ABC’s ”The Fix,“ ”A Million Little Things“ draw strong advertiser interest

Disney closed its upfront sales on Thursday, with the company seeing gains in both pricing and revenue, led by ESPN’s portfolio of live sports.

This was the first year that Disney reported its upfront sales as a combined company across ABC, Freeform, ESPN and Disney Channel. The company negotiated many of its deals with the bigger advertising agencies together, led by Kevin Mayer, the chairman of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International segments.

Much of the increased demand was led by ESPN and its array of live sports programming, which includes “Monday Night Football” and its NBA games. ESPN delivered double-digit gains in volume, as well as growth in CPM — the cost for reaching 1,000 viewers. Overall, Disney saw CPM increases in the low double-digit across all dayparts and high singles in cable, with revenue growth in the high single-digits across the board.

Upcoming series that drew the strongest advertiser interest included ABC’s “The Fix,” “A Million Little Things” and “Grand Hotel,” and Freeform’s “Pretty Little Liars” spinoff, “The Perfectionists.”

There was also a 25 percent increase in digital spending, which was up from 20 percent growth in 2017. Disney also cut more than twice the amount of addressable advertising deals — ads that are sold on a household level vs the Nielsen-provided age and gender demographics.

Disney’s upfront sales wrapped in mid-June around the same time Fox and CW closed theirs.

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