The CW Wraps Up Upfront Sales As Others Head Into Home Stretch

The youth-oriented network was able to raise its cost-per-thousand (CPM) price by about 7% and sold about 75% of its inventory, I’m told. Retailers and mobile phone companies were especially eager to buy time. No dollar figures yet, but it should be pretty easy to calculate soon: CW racked up about $410M in commitments last year and typically accounts for about 5% of the upfront marketplace for the major English-language broadcasters. The results aren’t as robust as last year. CW’s unit prices were up about 11% and sold close to 80% of its inventory at a time when advertisers were eager to buy as the economy pulled out of the recession. But CW’s latest results aren’t bad considering that its ratings were down about 20% in the 2011-2012 season, and this year included upfront pitches from Internet video providers as well as traditional TV. While the results are still sketchy, they suggest that CW successfully managed its effort to fold online and mobile ad inventory in with traditional television. The network increased its commercial load this year with the introduction of its apps for Apple and Android mobile devices.

Related: Broadcast TV Unit Ad Prices Slipped Slightly In Q1: Report

As for the other networks, I hear negotiations should wrap up by the end of next week. Fox could close by the end of this week with CPMs up in the 8%-9% range, with help from auto companies and movie studios. ABC’s also getting close with CPMs up about 6%-7%, also with decent orders from movie studios. There’s talk that NBC’s unit prices will be up about 6% but we’ll see — some say it might be lower. And CBS has been leading the pack although the numbers I hear range from slightly under 10% to slightly above. With its strong schedule, it’s considered to be in the catbird seat with the luxury of holding out longer than the others to get the price it wants.

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