CBS Close To Wrapping Upfront Sales With Gains, Citing Late-Night & NFL

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CBS has nearly wrapped up its upfront sales for the 2018-2019 broadcast season, recording CPM increases in the high-single to low-double digits, according to a network insider.

Most dayparts on the longtime ratings leader in total viewers saw double-digit increases across platforms, the source said, with late-night performing well thanks to Stephen Colbert’s hot streak. NFL sales and early commitments to next February’s Super Bowl have been encouraging, the source indicated.

Strong categories included retail, packaged goods, pharmaceuticals, financial products and services, and brokerage/insurance/credit cards. C-7 sales have trended well, the source said. CBS has for many years been emphasizing the importance of having accurate measurement of the full scope of live and delayed viewing and being able to charge for advertising throughout that span. Live viewership has declined across all networks amid tougher competition than ever from subscription streaming platforms.

CBS is the third broadcast network to report nearing the finish line this upfront season, after the CW also reported positive word on its sales a week ago and Fox Network Group did the same thanks to Fox broadcasting and Fox Sports. The ad environment for broadcasters remains challenging, though it arguably got a boost from the recent travails of Facebook and YouTube, which had been leeching away a lot of blue-chip brand dollars in recent years.

For CBS, the upfront period has unfolded against a backdrop of corporate drama as the company has been locked in a legal battle with its controlling shareholder, National Amusements Inc. Dueling lawsuits have flared up this spring over merger talks between CBS and Viacom, which is also controlled by NAI. CBS insists NAI is trying to force a merger; NAI strenuously disagrees.

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