TV Upfront

NBC Wraps Upfront With $1.7 Billion in Ad Commitments

Peacock Network Has Already Sold 65% to 75% of Super Bowl Inventory

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NBC Universal's flagship broadcast network has completed upfront negotiations, securing about $1.7 billion in ad commitments for NBC's prime-time programming in the coming fall season, according to an executive familiar with the situation.

The figure does not include ad sales for NBC Universal's broadcast of next summer's Olympic games, an event that is one of TV's top rated and which is seeing intense advertiser interest, this executive said.

Demand for the Super Bowl is also abundant, this executive said, estimating that NBC has sold between 65% and 75% of its available inventory for its scheduled broadcast of next year's NFL championship game, barring a possible work stoppage by players. Automakers, movie studios and retail are among the types of marketers purchasing spots -- in some cases, more than one, the executive suggested.

NBC sold about 80% of its inventory during the upfront-sales process, in line with how other networks have handled their operations this year.

According to ad buyers and other people familiar with the network's negotiations, NBC was securing deals that called for an increase in the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers, a measure commonly referred to as a CPM, in the range of 9%. In 2010, NBC notched about $1.6 billion in ad commitments in last year's marketplace, securing deals that called for CPM increases of about 7%.

NBC saw robust interest from a broad range of marketing categories, the executive familiar with the situation said, echoing the experience at other networks in this year's marketplace.

U.S. automakers are among those that want to use TV to regain market share that may have been lost during the recent recession, the executive said. While TV ad-sales leaders initially thought spending by pharmaceutical and consumer-packaged-goods marketers might be off in this upfront market, moreover, those advertisers participated more robustly than anticipated. And retailers, movie studios and restaurants were also healthy spenders, the executive said, while financial-services marketers demonstrated more interest than in recent seasons.

NBC's marketplace position has slumped in recent years as its ratings have declined, but the network has pitched a turnaround story this year, thanks to new ownership -- and planned investments in programming -- by Comcast Corp.

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