Upfront Nears Finish

NEW YORK Broadcast network sales executives believe upfront negotiations for every broadcast network will be completed by the end of this week, in an upfront that moved more rapidly than last year once it got started.

ABC, the last of the Big Four networks to begin its negotiations, is well on its way to completion, with more than 50 percent of its upfront business done. The network is reportedly getting the average 10 percent cost-per-thousand increases in prime time that it was holding out for, with some of the other dayparts selling at even higher double-digit CPM increases.

It’s been a while since broadcast network sales teams negotiated on the weekends during the upfront, but the urgency at which the media agencies wanted to get their clients money down had ABC’s sales personnel working this past Saturday, according to sources familiar with the situation.

All of the broadcast upfront deals were done using average commercial ratings per show, despite some agencies heading into the upfront wanting to do minute-by-minute commercial ratings within a show.

While some observers on both the broadcast network and media agency sides predicted long, protracted negotiations, because it was expected that different negotiating currencies would be used, only one primary currency—the average per show live commercial ratings plus three-day DVR viewing—was used. That made it easier for every agency and network to complete deals quicker.

“Group M wanted to use average commercial ratings per show, and it made sure it did the first deals at each network that set a precedent for that,” said one network sales executive, who did not want to speak for attribution.