By Liana B. Baker and Lisa Richwine
June 12 U.S. broadcast networks Fox and NBC are
close to wrapping up their advance sales for commercial time for
the upcoming fall season and have narrowly beaten analysts'
expectations with rate increases of as much as 7 percent over
last year, sources familiar with the negotiations said on
News Corp-owned Fox won a 5 percent to 7 percent
increase from advertisers despite a drop in overall viewership,
one source told Reuters.
The network sold about $1.75 billion of ad time for the
upcoming season during the "upfront" negotiations, when
advertisers buy commercial time in advance, the source said.
That represents a roughly 10 percent decline from the $1.95
billion Fox booked last year during the upfronts.
Fox suffered from a ratings decline in the TV season that
ended in May, largely due to a drop in viewership for its
long-time ratings behemoth "American Idol" singing competition.
The NBC broadcast network, a unit of Comcast Corp,
is close to finishing upfront sales with 7 percent to 8 percent
gains over a year ago, a second source told Reuters. The volume
of sales also increased, the source said.
Ahead of the upfronts, analysts at Barclays Capital forecast
rates would rise by 6 percent on average, with 5.5 percent for
Fox, and 5 percent for NBC.
For the first time, NBC is offering advertisers the chance
to buy time across the broadcast network, NBC Universal cable
channels such as Bravo and USA, and digital properties. Rates at
its cable channels are up 8 percent to 9 percent, the source
NBC finished third in the ratings race last season among
viewers 18 to 49, the group most desired by advertisers.
Spokespeople at NBC, Fox and Walt Disney Co's ABC
network declined to comment on the negotiations.
CBS, the most-watched U.S. television network, won
rate increases of 7.5 percent to 8.5 percent and booked about
$2.7 billion in commitments during the upfronts, a person
familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.