Fox Wraps Upfront Ad Sales as ‘Thursday Night Football’ Drives Volume, Pricing Gains

“The Simpsons” also continues to draw advertiser demand

Fox closed its upfront sales on Friday with gains in both pricing and volume thanks to its new “Thursday Night Football” franchise and continued interest in “The Simpsons.”

Much of the increased demand was due to the network’s new “Thursday Night Football” schedule, and NFL sales were driving force behind Fox Sports’ entire portfolio. In primetime, last year’s hit freshman drama “9-1-1,” “Empire” and “The Simpsons” saw increased demand from advertisers. Fox also attributed the gains to upcoming series “The Passage,” “Proven Innocent” and “Rel,” along with its live production of “Rent” and its “Cosmos” follow up “Possible Worlds.”

Fox scored CPM increases — the cost for reaching 1,000 viewers — in the high single-digits for broadcast primetime, though the network wouldn’t say exactly how much. An insider with knowledge of negotiations told TheWrap that it falls somewhere between nine and 10 percent. Overall demand for ad space was higher with volume up “significantly” though Fox would not divulge how much.

The Fox Network Group, which includes cable networks like FX and National Geographic (at least until they’re sold off to either Disney or Comcast), saw increased demand as well. Fox’s digital properties also increased ad revenue by double digits. The network has sold out the entire inventory of its new JAZ pods, commercial breaks that feature only two ads, for the whole season.

Fox is deploying these shorter ad breaks for certain programming blocks, including some Sunday nights, as well as other shows such as FX’s New York Times series, “The Weekly.” For the second straight year, FX will lead the market in ad sales for cable networks.

As with The CW, which finished its upfront sales last Friday, Fox wrapped its ad sales weeks ahead compared to a year ago. The network wouldn’t say how much of its overall ad inventory it has sold for the 2018-19 season.