Executives close to the network say the figure includes sales of "Sunday Night Football," which was among the most sought-after buys on the General Electric Co. network. The newly acquired event is estimated to have pulled in commitments totaling about $300 million.
The decision to include that $300 million is unusual, because sporting events traditionally have not been included in prime-time upfront sales. Last year, ABC took in $600 million in commitments for its "Monday Night Football" franchise and several other sporting events, but those ad dollars were counted separately from the network's $2.1 billion in prime-time ad commitments for its entertainment programming. Without the $300 million, NBC's total would drop to $1.6 billion.
As the most expensive network in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic, NBC reduced cost-per-thousand rates by 5%-6%. A typical CPM on NBC had been about $30.
One senior TV executive said agencies had almost uniformly requested or at least discussed some form of digital enhancement with NBC, whether it was web or wireless. Digital initiatives bagged an estimated $50 million in addition to NBC's $1.9 billion in upfront commitments. Agencies are said to have committed an estimated $200 million to digital projects across the broadcast networks this upfront, and NBC made an aggressive play to get as many of those dollars as possible.
Fox wrapped up business last week at $1.8 billion, an increase of $250 million from last year's $1.55 billion. The CW ended at $650 million, a slight decline from last year's WB figure, according to Advertising Age numbers. Time Warner's WB -- now part of the CW following a merger with CBS' UPN -- took in $675 million last year, though insiders said the final number was inaccurate and the CW had done better than its predecessor.
Separately, Anheuser-Busch today announced a wide-ranging sports deal with NBC for future NFL Super Bowl events, along with a host of other properties. NBC holds rights for the for 2009 and 2012 Super Bowls as part of a six-year deal with the NFL. The St. Louis-based brewer also will be the exclusive alcohol advertiser in broadcasts of the Ryder Cup and the Presidents' Cup for 2007-2011, and will sponsor NBC broadcasts of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness through 2010.