Paramount Global Sees Digital Ads Rise in Upfront, But Primetime Near Flat

The hottest place to be in TV isn’t on traditional television.

Paramount Global has largely completed its upfront sales negotiations, according to a person familiar with the matter, but saw its volume of advance advertising commitments rise most significantly for digital venues like Pluto and Paramount Plus, while volume for the traditional primetime schedule on the CBS broadcast network is believed to be comparable with last year’s results, according to media buyers familiar with current negotiations. In 2021, CBS may have seen its primetime commitments total between $2.03 billion and $2.64 billion, according to Variety estimates, compared with $2.03 billion and $2.51 billion in 2020.

Paramount Global was not able to make an executive available for immediate comment.

The nation’s big TV networks are trying to lock in ad deals for their next programming season as Madison Avenue keeps its eye on a slumping stock market and worries about the prospect of a recession. NBCUniversal earlier this week said its upfront volume was “comparable” to what it secured next year, while the CW recently wrapped its upfront sales with gains in digital but primetime volume that was flat with 2021. U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their commercial time for their next programming cycle as part of this annual market.

With the economy worrying Madison Avenue, the networks have not pressed too hard for the massive increases in CPMs, or the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers, that they sought last year. Paramount Global sought CPM increases of between 8% and 9%, according to people familiar with recent discussions, for both broadcast and cable inventory. Last year, with advertisers eager to spend following the shutdown required by the coronavirus pandemic, the networks pushed for CPM rates of between 16% and 22%

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