TV Upfronts

The CW Crosses the Upfront Finish Line First, With CPM Increases in the Mid-Teens

Volume is up single digits compared to last year

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Just three weeks after holding its upfront presentation, The CW has already wrapped this year’s negotiations, becoming the first network to cross the finish line for the second year in a row.

The network secured CPM (cost per thousand viewers reached) increases between 14% and 15% this year, according to a source close to negotiations, and also saw single-digit volume hikes.

The CW sold 80% of its inventory for the 2019-20 TV season, holding the rest back for the scatter market.

When the network finish its upfront talks last year, it leveraged buyer interest in the network’s expansion to Sunday nights last fall to the tune of 15% volume gains and CPM increases in the low double-digits.

The network saw upfront demand this year across all of its shows and platforms, including for its three new series: Batwoman (starring Ruby Rose, who covers Adweek’s Women Trailblazers issue this week) and Nancy Drew, both debuting this fall, along with Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene, which is being held for midseason. The strongest categories included pharma and fast food.

This fall, “we have scripted programming in every time period, all 12 hours. No other network can claim that,” The CW president Mark Pedowitz told reporters last month.

This will be the final season of two long-running CW shows, Supernatural (returning for its 15th and final season) and Arrow (ending after Season 8).

The quick finish to The CW’s upfront talks comes during what buyers describe as a more active and faster-moving upfront market than last year.

The CW sales chief Rob Tuck told Adweek last month that being the most stable company presenting at upfronts week would work in the network’s favor during upfront talks “because our message and everything we’re taking out to the market and doing in the market is stable. It’s a game plan that has worked for us, and we’re going to stay with it. We know this network has been very fortunate to have a really clear brand identity.”