/// NBC Closes Final Upfront Deal

July 30, 2013  |  Media Week

In what will go on the books as one of the most drawn-out upfront seasons in recent memory, NBCUniversal has finalized its last major agency deal. Having finished its business with GroupM, NBCU closes the door on a particularly contentious upfront bazaar. While Fox , CBS and the CW effectively finished their deal making in early- to mid-June, NBCU faced pushback from buyers who refused to yield on price. That said, NBCU appears to have achieved its objectives, dramatically improving the CPMs at USA Network while fetching much more competitive rates for NBC prime-time programming. Years of underdeliveries had so stunted NBC’s value that inventory in big-reach shows like Revolution initially sold for a relative pittance. Per SQAD NetCosts data, a 30-second spot in Revolution last fall fetched $90,000 ; sources said NBC secured much higher rates for many of its upcoming series, including The Michael J. Fox Show and The Blacklist. NBC locked in CPM premiums of 7 percent to 8 percent over last year’s rates. Buyers said that the higher rates at the flagship and at USA Network were balanced out by much more moderate increases across NBCU’s portfolio. Given the price increases and an 80 percent sellout rate, NBC is likely to have booked nearly $2 billion in advance commitments. That’s well above analysts’ early projections , which suggested that NBC was likely to achieve volume of $1.8 billion—flat versus the 2012-13 bazaar. Sources said NBCU CEO Steve Burke was called in to help close the GroupM deal. The network did not reply to inquiries into its upfront status. NBC’s final upfront deal was hashed out on the eve of Comcast’s second quarter earnings call. The broadcast and cable TV segments in 2012 accounted for a little more than one-fourth (27 percent) of Comcast’s overall revenue. In Q1, the cable portfolio (which includes USA, Bravo, Syfy, E!, NBC Sports Network, Oxygen and the soon-to-be-rebranded G4) generated $2.23 billion in total revenue , while NBC’s broadcast operations took in $1.52 billion. With NBCU having folded its tent, ABC is the last broadcaster still seated at the negotiating table. The network is at an impasse with GroupM over pricing, holding firm on a 7 percent CPM hike. While NBC and ABC toiled well beyond the unofficial July 4 deadline, this sort of foot-dragging upfront seems to happen every three or four years. The last time negotiations dragged into August was in 2009, when a crippling recession erased nearly $3 billion in broadcast volume

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NBC Closes Final Upfront Deal


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