CBS Wraps Upfront Talks With Late-Night Volume Gains of 20%

Company secured CPM prime-time increases in the mid teens

Advertisers are expecting The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to continue to be a ratings force going into the 2020 elections. Scott Kowalchyk/CBS
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CBS has finished its upfront negotiations, securing prime-time CPM (cost per thousand viewers reached) increases in the mid teens and late-night volume hikes of as much as 20%, according to a source close to negotiations.

The company emerged with single-digit CPM increases across all dayparts, and given the hefty late-night volume increases, advertisers are clearly expecting The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to continue to be a ratings force going into the 2020 elections.

CBS is the second broadcaster to complete its upfront talks, following sister network The CW, which wrapped two weeks ago.

During last year’s upfront talks, CBS ended up with double-digit CPM increases in all dayparts.

While nearly every category was up in this year’s upfront, CBS saw the strongest demand from insurance/financial, pharmaceutical and wireless categories, while direct-to-consumer brands made bigger upfront investments.

CBS also saw volume growth from its digital offerings and strong demand for several of its new shows, which the network set premiere dates for last week.

Jo Ann Ross, president and chief advertising revenue officer, CBS, told Adweek in May she expected “a very healthy marketplace” in the upfront, even without the presence of one of TV’s biggest shows, The Big Bang Theory, which ended its run last month.

“I feel that we have enough shows that are going to be on the schedule and returning to the schedule that clients will want to buy for that audience,” Ross said.

This was the first upfront for CBS since the exit of former CEO Leslie Moonves, who departed the company in September following more than a dozen sexual harassment and intimidation allegations. His replacement, Joseph Ianniello, recently agreed to extend his acting CEO title through the end of 2019.

“The thing that I’m most proud of is that as there has been disruption in the marketplace and certainly here at CBS, my sales team on the linear and interactive sides has remained very stable and very committed,” Ross told Adweek in May. “We have not been distracted by the goal that we have.”

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.