Warner Bros. Discovery’s upfront negotiations are said to be lagging behind those of its peers as TV advertising negotiations near a close for many major network groups. At the same time, the ad sales team at the newly merged company is bracing for layoffs.
Two buyers with knowledge of Warner Bros. Discovery’s negotiations said the company is trailing the marketplace after initially pricing its premiere package with what multiple buyers previously described as overpriced CPMs, or the cost to marketers to reach 1,000 viewers. The company, they said, is attempting to use its newfound scale as a bargaining chip to charge more for the combined asset package.
“I don’t think anybody could say that they’re in a comfortable place with them right now,” said one buyer.
A second buyer said that most networks came to the table with much more reasonable rate increases versus last year, which led to a “relatively swift marketplace where there wasn’t a ton of haggling over price.” But Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to enter negotiations with pricey rate hikes left it trailing its network peers. This person added, “That’s simply not where the marketplace is. They had to get realistic very quickly.”
“We’re kind of putting the finishing touches on most of our deals outside of Warner Bros. Discovery. They’re still just starting up,” the second buyer said.
Warner Bros. Discovery declined to comment.