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Fox and NBC finish upfront advertising sales

June 14, 2012|By Meg James
  • Advertisers were pleased with NBC's new drama "Smash," which features Anjelica Huston and Thorsten Kaye.
Advertisers were pleased with NBC's new drama "Smash,"… (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles…)

Broadcasters can hang up the "Gone Fishing" sign.

Network executives have finished negotiating the bulk of their advertising sales for the upcoming 2012-2013 television season, fetching nearly $9.1 billion in commitments for prime-time commercial spots.

News Corp.'s Fox Broadcasting and NBC, controlled by Comcast Corp., wrapped up their sales on Wednesday, according to people familiar with the negotiations. CBS and ABC finished earlier in the week, and the small CW put the final touches on its sales effort late last week.

Although the networks were able to hike their ad rates, the total haul for the broadcast industry was off slightly from last year's total of just over $9.2 billion. Most of the networks have experienced ratings declines, contributing to the lower amount. 

The price of network advertising is calculated using a complicated formula that includes projected ratings for individual shows and the ad rate, called a CPM, which is the cost per thousand viewers. 

As a result of the formula, while advertisers agreed to pay rates that were at least 5% higher than last year, most of the networks will come away with about the same amount of upfront money, said two leading advertising buyers.

NBC, which has stumbled amid slipping ratings for six years, finished its upfront sales campaign with nearly $1.8 billion in prime-time commitments, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. That is approximately $100 million more than the network took in last year. 

The peacock network managed rate increases of about 6%.

Advertisers were most interested in buying time in NBC's highest-rated program, "Sunday Night Football," as well as its hit singing competition "The Voice" and "Smash," the high-profile drama about the making of a Broadway show. NBC runs nearly 22 hours of prime-time programs.

Fox wrote more than $1.9 billion of prime-time business -- on par with its total last year. The network negotiated rate increases of about 8% to 9% but it too has grappled with ratings declines, particularly with its marquee show "American Idol."  Fox programs 15 hours in prime time.

CBS outdistanced its rivals during this year's upfront market, raking in nearly $2.6 billion in prime-time commitments. Walt Disney Co.'s ABC collected close to $2.4 billion for prime-time spots.  Both networks program 22 hours in prime time.  Meanwhile, CW, which offers 10 hours in prime time, registered just under $400 million in commitments.

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