Fox is the first network to finish its deals in the 2006 upfront, selling out about 80% of its inventory and writing $1.8 billion in upfront business. The network, whose American Idol has been a spectacular success, also secured 2%-3% increases on CPMs (cost per thousand viewers), according to executives familiar with the deals.
Overall, the broadcast upfront market is expected to be off from the 2005-06 season, when advertisers committed $9.1 billion. Early forecasts called for this year's tally to reach $9 billion, although some industry executives now say the haul could dip as low as $8.8 billion to $8.5 billion.
Also Monday, the other broadcast networks are moving closer to wrapping up their advance sales. NBC is nearly finished with its deals, taking in about $1.9 million, flat with last year, and CPMs down 5%. NBC sold more inventory to make up for the drop in prices, insiders said.
The CW, selling its first upfront before its Sept. 18 debut, is nearly finished writing business. The network's overall take is said to be about $625 million to $650 million, and CPMs are up low single digits from The WB's rates, according to executives. The CW is said to have signed more advertisers than its predecessors, The WB and UPN.
CBS and ABC were said to be very close to finishing their deals Monday. Analysts are projecting CBS will take in about $2.2 billion and flat CPMs, while ABC will take in $2.2 billion, up $100 million from last year, with 1% CPM increases.