Upfront Ad Market Appears to Be Off to Quick Start

Strong demand sparks early negotiations
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The TV advertising market seems to be off to a fast start.

Media buyers have let some of the networks know what they want to buy earlier than usual and some deals have already been struck.

ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke

Karey Burke at the ABC upfront presentation.

Some sources indicated that ABC had already completed a handful of deals and that negotiations are well underway at NBC and CBS. Fox is said to be in the thick of things as well.

Normally there is a lull between the time the networks finish their presentations and when media buyers submit their budgets--the first step in the negotiating process.

Related: Discovery Crashing Broadcast Networks' Upfront Party

This year, the Memorial Day holiday was earlier than usual and media buyers, aware that the market was likely to be strong for a fourth year in a row, were ready to do business this week.

In addition to a tightening supply of ratings points as traditional viewership declines, there is additional pressure on the demand side as new direct-to-consumer brands start to buy television advertising in the upfront market, as opposed to scatter or through direct response channels.

Those DTC advertisers are armed with data that helps them pinpoint what networks, dayparts and shows they want to buy. And in return for paying higher prices in the upfront, they’re seeking stringent guarantees from the networks in terms of what audiences they’ll deliver.

That dynamic could put a squeeze on traditional advertisers. But those traditional advertisers are also adapting to a new media landscape, and are talking to the networks about being able to buy a broader range of inventory, including digital and streaming.

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