Upfronts Are ‘Closed’: What Really Happened?

Well, the TV networks have finished selling their “up front” advertising, says AdAge, with ABC’s take slightly behind CBS’ $2.4 billion (what’s $100 million among friends?). The Upfronts, as they’re known, these days seem a clever way of getting ad buyers to an auction of something that’s not as scarce as it used to be.

Which is why the money this year definitely isn’t much higher than last. Is it? We asked our expert friend Shelly Palmer, who gave us an eloquent parse of what might be going on:

There is no way to tell what is happening with the upfronts this year. NBC has football on Sunday nights, so they are not selling that time, ABC doesn’t have football on Monday nights so they will be selling that time — the WB and UPN are gone, but the CW has sold about what WB sold last year. No one has accounted for the missing UPN money so far.

No two sources have reported the same exact numbers (AdAge, Mediapost, NYT, WSJ, Mediaweek, etc.) They’re close, but not close enough to believe any of them. According to Claire Atkinson at AdAge, the validity of last year’s numbers are also in question, so this +/- game seems pointless. Business is as tough as ever, TV viewership continues to decline but it is still the best way to reach the largest possible audience.