After finishing the 2015-16 season as the No. 1 broadcast network in total viewers and adults 18-49, CBS has now become the first broadcast network to cross the upfront finish line. The network is finishing its upfront sales with a 3 to 5 percent volume increase over last year's upfront, according to sources close to CBS.
But more importantly for Les Moonves, chairman and CEO of CBS Corp., the network made good on his recent vow for double-digit upfront increases, as it secured CPM (cost per thousand viewers reached) prime time increases in low double-digits.
Interest was strongest from the retail, financial, pharmaceutical and telecom categories, with more deals moving from C3 to C7 this year. Buyers were particularly interested in CBS' football properties, including NFL on CBS, Thursday Night Football and SEC.
Last week, Jo Ann Ross, president of network sales for CBS, told Adweek there had been considerable upfront interest in both of CBS late-night properties—The Late Late Show with James Corden and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, with Corden's Carpool Karaoke attracting attention from categories like automotive, fast food and music services. Carpool Karaoke's first-ever integration last week, with Coca-Cola and McDonald's, could serve as a blueprint for future deals, she said.
Moonves told investors last month he expected big things from Ross and her team during the upfront: "With these ratings, this schedule and the ad market on fire, we are salivating as we head into the upfront season," said Moonves, adding that he expected to secure double-digit price increases.
After gambling outside its comfort zone last season with dramas Limitless and Supergirl, both of which brought new audiences to CBS but didn't perform strongly enough to return this season (Supergirl has moved to The CW; Limitless was canceled), CBS stayed even more on-brand than usual with its fall order: three multi-cam comedies (Kevin Can Wait, starring Kevin James; Man With a Plan, with Matt LeBlanc; and The Great Indoors, starring Joel McHale), and three procedural dramas (Bull, with Michael Weatherly; medical drama Pure Genius and a rebooted MacGyver).
The network declined to comment about its upfront sales.
While CBS is the first broadcast network to finish its upfront negotiations, Viacom wrapped its upfront business a week and a half ago, on June 16.