CW Sees Digital Ad Dollars Rise in Upfront, But Primetime Near Flat

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TV’s dollars are migrating to digital, just like its viewers.

The CW has wrapped upfront negotiations, according to a person familiar with the matter, and expects a rise in advance ad commitments for its digital venues, but sees its primetime broadcast schedule take in similar volume to last year’s market.

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Variety estimates that CW may have seen primetime volume come in between $440.8 million and $626.9 million, in 2021, compared with $440.8 million and $$597.1 million in 2020.

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.

With those dynamics as a backdrop, 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. The CW sought CPM increases of between 9% and 11%, according to people familiar with recent discussions. 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%.

Among the new series the network is introducing in the fall are “The Winchesters,” a prequel to the CW’s long-running “Supernatural,” and “Walker Independence,” which has ties to the current “Walker” series. Advertisers also showed interest in the network’s two “All American” series.

The CW is jointly owned by Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery.

More to come….

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