NBC leads Upfronts with $6.5B in ad revenue

NBC Tower
NBCUniversal digital video ad commitments rose 42% annually, and its projected NFL revenue rose 5% annually. Image: Tflynn17/Wikimedia Commons

NBC is out in front of the pack with $6.5 billion in ad sales—up 8% from last year—as Upfronts season wraps up.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the total includes commercial time sales on the NBC broadcast network, Spanish-language Telemundo, as well as USA, Bravo, E!, MSNBC, CNBC and Golf Channel. NBCUniversal digital video ad commitments rose 42% annually, and its projected NFL revenue rose 5% annually.

“This was our best upfront ever,” NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke told the publication.

According to Adweek, demand from ad buyers was up for NBC shows including “SNL,” “This Is Us,” and “The Today Show,” while USA’s “Mr. Robot” and E!’s red carpet shows also saw higher demand.

NBCU’s good fortune comes amid an Upfront season expected to generate $18.5 billion in ad sales. CBS, ABC and Fox all maintained their ad totals, according to the L.A. Times. CBS saw increased demand for its late night programming and Fox saw increased interest in FX.

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According to figures from Standard Media Index, NBC led the way during this year’s Upfronts in several advertising categories, particularly on Sundays. NBC pulled 14.9% total share for automotive advertising on Sundays and 12.6% share for consumer electronics advertising on Sundays.

Although reports have suggested that the Upfronts market was somewhat soft this year, broadcasters like CBS and NBC have remained in a growth position.

In a research note, for which UBS interviewed 39 advertising executives, UBS said the lack of improvement lately in the TV ad marketplace appears to be driven more by cyclical factors than secular shifts. The firm is predicting the TV upfront market will be up low-to-mid single digits in CPM price increases and flat-to-down slightly in volume.

“Advertisers indicated that the sports category will see the greatest increases and broadcast prime and news would see declines. Also, advertisers seemed interested in the Paramount [Network], Viacom's new entertainment channel focused on 25-54 year old audiences. From our survey, upfront positioning was noted as favorable for (in order) CBS, NBC, Turner and Scripps, and less favorable for (also in order) AMCX, FOXA, A&E and ESPN. From our panelist, Fox and NBCU were highlighted for integrating broadcast and cable, and that Viacom's targeting efforts were helping it keep ad spend it would otherwise be losing,” UBS wrote.