Today I heard a prediction for overall upfront spending at the four biggest broadcast upfronts4networks: north of $9 billion. “And that’s even with NBC in the shit,” one of my top TV insiders explained (ignoring that NBC’s development for next fall is looking better than it has in years). So that’s why I’m told this will be the biggest upfront maybe in the history of the broadcast business. And this upbeat forecast is coming from everyone — network suits, top agents, advertising execs, financial analysts. They’re all saying that the TV biz is back and in a big way, especially among the broadcast networks. As one of my sources described, “Advertisers are hungering for broadcast network shows again.” upfront ad spendingIf this year is a feast, then last year was a famine: overall upfront spending at the Big 4 alphabet networks in the midst of the economic crisis slid 13% to only about $6.5 billion in 2009. Auto ads, pharma ads, consumer products ads, were down or disappeared entirely. Lower prices per viewer and lower overall spending were the rule with no exceptions for last year’s upfront. True, scatter market demand was unexpectedly better and therefore pricing surprisingly stronger. Still, that was seen as more of a fluke than a trend. Contrast that with this year: in late April, the Wall Street Journal headlined a story, “Upfront Market Looks Primed for an Upswing: Outlook Improves for Advance Sales of Network-TV Spots as Companies Boost Spending”. But no one even then would have predicted north of $9B. Trust me, no one.