Upfront still going gangbusters


The broadcast networks continued to build on last week's hefty prime time upfront ad-sales start by notching additional deals over the weekend and early

Given the current sales pacing -- "more robust than anticipated" -- most industry executives are now projecting a $7.5 billion or $7.6 billion finish, rather than the flat $7 billion upfront many had expected even a few weeks ago.

That would still be behind the TV networks' blockbuster $8.1 billion upfront market of 2000, however.

Through last Friday, the "Big Four" had each sold out 40 percent to 50 percent of their upfront inventory, industry sources estimated.

The automotive and movie categories were among those contributing to the fast break.

The networks weren't commenting, but these industry sources said ad-sales frontrunner NBC is expected to double its take through Friday to finish with a
projected $2.5 billion upfront total, fueled by CPM (cost per thousand homes) increases in the 9 percent to 10 percent range.

CBS is said to be asking CPM hikes between 10 percent and 13 percent, while ABC is seeking 5 percent to 6.5 percent raises (versus 4 percent to 6 percent last Friday).

CBS held back some of its upfront avails last year when it couldn't get the price it wanted.

Fox was reportedly 25 percent sold by late Friday, but there was no word on pricing.