TV Upfront

CW Wraps Its 2015-16 Upfront Business

Youth-Friendly Network Sees Big Lift In Dollar Volume

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The CW is the first TV network to complete its 2015-16 upfront business, closing out the spring bazaar with a significant uptick in new business and dollar volume.

Jane the Virgin
Jane the Virgin Credit: The CW

Broadcast's youngest-skewing network landed some 30 new advertisers over the course of the upfront, making particular headway with the automotive, financial services and retail categories.

According to CW brass, the home of "Arrow," "The Flash" and "Jane the Virgin" posted cost-per-thousand increases of 4% versus the year-ago upfront season, while dollar volume jumped between 12% and 15%.

All told, the network shifted its usual chunk of inventory, landing early commitments for between 75% and 80% of its available airtime.

(As is always the case when bandying about upfront-related stats, the numbers are not exactly in thrall to Sarbanes-Oxley. The "real" numbers are to be found in the quarterly earnings reports. That said, the CW figures jibe with what media buyers are reporting.)

Buyers this year were eager to steer more business to the CW, as its DC Comics adaptations have helped deliver more young male viewers. The network in 2014-15 notched a seven-year high-water mark with men aged 18-to-34 and 18-to-49, while the adults 18-to-49 demographic improved 13% year-on-year.

The network wrapped its final agency deal on Thursday night.

With only one new series set for the fall (the comedy "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" bows Monday, Oct. 19), the network's prime-time lineup contains very little in the way of unknown commodities. When coming off a strong season, that sort of consistency may work to a seller's advantage.

While the CW's ad sales team can take a well-deserved breather, its broadcast rivals are still grinding out business. ABC, CBS and NBC this week jumped into the upfront pool, joining frontrunner Fox.

While there's no sense in getting into a lot of wholly unverifiable pricing trends, buyers and sellers expect modest CPM increases and another drop in overall upfront volume. The relative slowness of the market has less to do with any lingering contentiousness than a complexity that's a function of multi-network/-platform deals and the elevated presence of Big Data.

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