Upfront Is Off and Selling


The broadcast upfront is under way and moving in a "much more orderly fashion" than last year's upfront, which came and went in about 72 hours and was wrapped up before the Memorial Day weekend.

The upfront is the point, after months of negotiation, at which sellers and buyers of network ad time sit down to write contracts for ads in the upcoming season.
Buyer's estimate that by late Tuesday, the market was about one-third complete. Buyers said that CBS, ABC, Fox, WB and UPN were all writing orders, while NBC appeared to be the least active but gearing up for a mid-week flurry of activity.

Leslie Moonves, the CBS CEO who was named co-chief operating officer at Viacom Tuesday (along with MTV Networks CEO Tom Freston, after Mel Karmazin resigned), said that CBS did "a couple of deals last week," and that the market was ongoing. He suggested--without really saying it--that CBS was reaching its goal of double digit price hikes for the upfront, at least to this point.
 Asked about pricing on a conference call with investors and analysts, Moonves wasn't specific, but said, "you will be happy," with CBS' results when the market is complete.
 A source inside CBS said the network was so far "reaching our goal" of double-digit price hikes. One buyer countered that "they may be doing that in some cases, but it's not across the board." So far, the average price hike across all the networks is about 5%, buyers say. At deadline, NBC wasn't commenting on the upfront, nor was ABC or Fox. But both buyers and sellers indicated that they expect the networks will be wrapping up the market by Friday.