NBC Hikes Upfront Ad Sales Prices After Back-to-Back First-Place Finishes

Books remain open for business, which appears to be booming

NBC entered the 2015 upfronts in first-place for the second year in a row, and now the network appears to be reaping those benefits.

The main channel is one of just two remaining English-language broadcast networks yet to close their upfront ad sales books, with the other being ABC, who, as TheWrap reported on Wednesday, is holding out for higher pricing. Pricing doesn’t appear to be a challenge this year for NBC, according to one insider, who told TheWrap that the CPM (cost-per-thousand views) pricing has grown year-over-year.

That said, the actual growth rate itself has slowed down in 2015 for the network, which is pretty commonplace across the industry. Of course, NBCUniversal has quite a sizable total portfolio, which we’re told has been well-received by media buyers again, and is more valuable this year than last.

NBCUniversal had no comment on its upfront pricing.

Fueled by the Winter Olympics, NBC made a move last year to finish the traditional fall season in first place in the advertiser-sought 18-49 demographic, which wasn’t a common position for it at the time. Now it is: The network also came out on top last summer.

With the Super Bowl this past February and “Sunday Night Football” remaining the top show on TV, NBC was able to repeat atop the traditional September-May fall season. Projections show the broadcast net as the prohibitive favorite to top this summer as well.

That all said, readers can expect the streak to stop there, as CBS will likely finish first in the main demo this fall, thanks in large part to Super Bowl 50.

Speaking of CBS, America’s most-watched network more-or-less finished its own upfront negotiations on Monday, claiming the most ad dollars and highest pricing, per its own research. That said, in the end, ABC may slightly top CBS in year-over-year percentage increases from upfront sales — a final tally that remains to be seen. Even if that happens, it may be more a testament to CBS’ strong baseline numbers from 2014 than anything else.

Meanwhile, fourth-place Fox Broadcasting Channel closed its upfront period on Tuesday, finishing down in both pricing and revenue year-over-year. The broader Fox Networks Group had better news when counting cable.

CW was the first English-language broadcast net to close upfront ad sales. On Friday, CW reported an increase of 12-15 percent in total volume of ad sales and overall ad dollars from 2014. This year, they also saw an approximately four percent increase in CPM. The company’s volume had hovered at approximately $400 million for the last few years.