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The 2013-14 Upfront

The CW Closes Out Its Upfront Deals

Converged packages give ratings-challenged net a shot in the arm

The cast of the CW drama Reign.

The CW is once again the first network to finish writing its upfront business, taking in approximately $400 million to $410 million in advance commitments for the 2013-14 TV season. Sources said that overall dollar volume was flat when compared to last year's bazaar.

A joint venture between CBS Corp. and Warner Bros. Entertainment, the CW averaged 5 to 6 percent CPM increases as demand for its converged linear TV-digital packages helped offset a loss of available GRPs.

Last year, the CW booked average CPM hikes of 7 percent.

According to industry sources, the CW moved around 75 percent of its available inventory, or about the weight it moved a year ago. Should the scatter market remain healthy, that small portion of held-back ad time could prove invaluable for the youth-skewing network.

Media buyers have characterized the network’s development slate as the strongest in its eight-year history. The sci-fi heavy roster includes a spinoff of its top-rated series The Vampire Diaries (The Originals), the telepathic drama The Tomorrow People and the costume drama Reign.

Midseason dramas include Star-Crossed (formerly Oxygen), a sort of interstellar Romeo and Juliet meets District 9, and The 100, a dystopian caper about a group of juvenile delinquents who are sent back to a post-apocalyptic Earth in an attempt to repopulate the dead planet.

The CW sells inventory across 10 hours of prime time programming (8 p.m.-10 p.m., Monday-Friday). Fox has 15 hours of content to sell each week, while ABC, CBS and NBC schedule 22 hours of programming.

After stalling at the start of the week, Fox once again is writing business at a rapid clip, securing CPM increases between 5 percent and 7 percent. It will almost certainly be finished with its deal-making by Thursday evening, if not before.

ABC is also in the midst of negotiations, while CBS is expected to get a good chunk of its deals done before the weekend. Buyers said the ratings leader is all but certain to write the biggest rate increases, earning premiums between 9 percent and 10 percent.

NBC is in active negotations with agencies and is expected to begin cutting deals after CBS gets rolling. 

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