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CW wraps ad sales with more than $410 million in commitments

June 05, 2013|By Meg James
  • CW network has completed its advertising sales for the 2013-2014 season. Above, a scene from "Arrow," the network's most popular show, starring Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen.
CW network has completed its advertising sales for the 2013-2014 season.… (Jack Rowand / The CW )

The small CW television network has wrapped up its upfront advertising sales, becoming the first broadcast network to pass the finish line in the TV industry's annual auction.

Fox last week kicked off the broadcast ad bazaar, haggling with advertisers over the sale of their commercial time for the upcoming 2013-2014 TV season. Fox, owned by News Corp., has been negotiating rate increases of between 5% to 7%, according to knowledgeable people who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive financial information.

Other broadcasters were somewhat disappointed with Fox's strategy as the other major networks had been holding out for meatier rate increases.

Last week, CW -- a joint venture between CBS Corp. and Warner Bros. -- also began accepting orders for its commercial time. On Wednesday, it became the first network to complete its advertising sales, commanding rate hikes of 5% to 6%, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

The network secured commitments worth between $410 million and $420 million, roughly on par with its haul last year, according to the informed person.

The network, which averages nearly 1.8 million viewers a night, ended the September-May season down more than 10% in the important advertising category of viewers ages 18 to 49, according to Nielsen. However, the network's total audience grew about 4% compared with the previous season.

In the last two seasons, CW has been aiming for a broader audience rather than relying, as it has traditionally done, on women ages 18 to 34.

Earlier this year, the network's signature series "Gossip Girl" ended its six-season run. CW's most popular show is the superhero "Arrow," while "The Vampire Diaries" ranks highest among viewers ages 18 to 49.

Next season, CW plans to launch a spin-off of the "The Vampire Diaries," called "The Originals." It also is stepping outside its normal fare by experimenting with a historical drama "Reign," starring Adelaide Kane as young Mary, Queen of Scots.

CW sold about 75% of its prime-time commercial inventory for the upcoming TV season during this month's sales process, known in the industry as the upfront market. The network held back about 25% for sales during the season.

This auction marked the third year in which CW sold multi-platform ad packages that included 30-second TV commercial spots, advertising placements through its mobile application as well as commercials embedded in shows streamed on the Internet.

CW's primary affiliated station group is Tribune Co., which owns the Los Angeles Times. CW programming runs on KTLA-TV Channel 5, a Tribune station, in Los Angeles.

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