TV Upfront

NBC Ekes Out Slight Volume Gain In Upfront

'The Voice' and 'Sunday Night Football' Draw Advertiser Interest

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NBC is close to wrapping its upfront negotiations and expects to muster a slight gain in dollar volume committed, owing to advertiser interest in such programs as "The Voice," according to a person familiar with the situation.

NBC is planning two cycles of 'The Voice' in the 2012-2013 season.
NBC is planning two cycles of 'The Voice' in the 2012-2013 season. Credit: NBC

The network secured commitments totaling around $1.7 billion in last year's session, according to Advertising Age estimates. If NBC were able to increase its volume by 1% to 2%, as this person suggested, the network could have secured ad commitments between nearly $1.72 billion and $1.74 billion.

NBC did some deals with increases in the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers -- also known as a CPM -- as high as 7%, the person said, although ad buyers said most deals represented price hikes in the range of 5% to 6%. Last year's negotiations saw NBC secure CPM hikes in the range of 9%.

NBC sold about the same amount of inventory as it did last year, according to the person familiar with the situation, who estimated the amount of ad time sold comprised 78% to 79% of the available inventory. Last year, NBC sold about 80%.

NBC's ability to generate a tiny gain in volume seems to separate it somewhat this year, when many of the other networks reporting so far have anticipated results that were flat to slightly down in terms of total dollars committed. While NBC's "Sunday Night Football" has been a big draw for several years, the network has had little else to brag about as it has wrangled with a paucity of mass-audience entertainment hits in prime time. NBC said earlier this year that it would air two cycles of "The Voice," which has given Fox's "American Idol" some noticeable competition, across the 2012-2013 season.

Auto marketers and retailers appeared to be spending more in this upfront, this executive said, while pharmaceutical advertisers and movie studios showed evidence of some pullback.

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