CBS is close to wrapping up its upfront sales, and company CEO Leslie Moonves is “very pleased” with the results. The company is selling less inventory and obtained “slightly” lower pricing than last year, Moonves confirmed. But because ratings were up, the network’s upfront revenue take will be flat with last year’s, even though it is selling about 15 percent less inventory.
The net will sell roughly 65 percent of its available prime time inventory for next season in the current upfront market, Moonves told analysts Thursday afternoon during the company’s second quarter earnings conference call.
That’s about 10 percentage points (or 15 percent) less than the 75 percent that the network sold last year, Moonves said.
“We’re nearing the finish line of our upfront discussions,” said Moonves. “We’ve been the strongest player in very protracted negotiations. The good news for us is that despite slight pricing declines our audience has grown. As a result we have been able to achieve flat revenues for the percentage of inventory we sold so far.”
And with a surprisingly strong third quarter scatter market, Moonves said, “we like our position as the economy continues to improve and we maintain our standing as” the most watched network.
The third quarter scatter market for CBS is up about 30 percent, or $30 million, said Moonves. “Advertisers have been coming back very strongly in the third quarter,” he said, “particularly in core categories like retail, telecom, phrama and quick service restaurants.” Pricing is up over upfront rates, he said.
Helping CBS’ effort, Moonves said, was the fact that CBS did not have make goods to dole out, which eat into available scatter inventory. Next season he said, “we are even more confident in our stable schedule. So when you couple that with the improving economy, we once again believe we can lead the market.”