Disney-ABC Claims Volume Gain in Upfront Ad Sales

Prices up by ‘high-single digits’ across portfolio
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Disney-ABC says its upfront sales were up by high-single digits across its portfolio of broadcast, cable and kids channels.

ABC, which consolidated its ad sales force earlier this year under president Rita Ferro, made a public announcement about its upfront results, which is unusual in what is often a murky upfront process. The Disney-ABC ad sales unit does not include ESPN.

ABC says it got price increases on a cost-per-thousand viewers basis in the high single digit range across all dayparts and cable. Both late night and kids saw low double-digit pricing increases.

Among the other networks, market sources indicated that CBS was largely done a week ago, with primetime sales volume flat but big gains in late night and news dayparts. The CW also wrapped up with volume gains of 3% to 5%, with prices up on the high single digit, low double digit range.

On the cable side, Turner Broadcasting was said to be substantially finished, with volume up in the mid-single digit range and prices on a cost per thousand viewers (CPM) basis up in the high single digit range.

Ad sales execs said that one large agency was moving very slowly, preventing they from closing their books. Before the upfront, most estimates were that volume would be down. With the networks claiming gains, the question is where is that money coming from. Some is apparently coming from digital, where companies like Google and Facebook are facing issues with viewability and putting ads next to inappropriate content.

ABC said Digital spending was up 20% from last year.

The company said that categories showing growth included technology, pharmaceuticals, financial services, insurance and consumer packaged goods.

The company did not disclose how much of its ad inventory it sold but said it was positioned well for the scatter marketplace.

"The strength of the Disney|ABC group coupled with the cross portfolio opportunities helped drive benefits for clients," the company said in a statement.

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