Disney Scores a Record $9 Billion at Upfronts Ahead of Disney+ Ad Tier

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The Walt Disney Company cashed in at the annual Upfronts this year like never before with commitments totaling a record $9 billion, the company said Monday. The all-time high mark comes as Disney+ prepares to launch an ad-supported streaming tier later this year.

The looming entry of Disney+ and its 138 million worldwide subscribers into the ad market to join Hulu, ESPN+ and the company’s roster of linear networks proved to be an attractive selling point to advertisers. Disney noted that a whopping 40% of the $9 billion in commitments will be for its digital and streaming platforms.

“Disney Advertising entered our 2022-2023 Upfront committed to executing on our strategic priorities — streaming, multicultural and inclusion, sports and entertainment — and we delivered,” Rita Ferro, president of advertising sales for Disney Media and Entertainment, said in a statement. “This marks a historic close to our strongest Upfront ever, totaling $9 billion. I am proud to partner with all of our clients to reach audiences at scale across all screens, and alongside the most premium content.”

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Live sports coverage remains one of the most vital assets for linear television and Disney has paid a premium to compete in that arena. As part of the recent NFL broadcast deal renewal, the company agreed to pay $2.6 billion a year to continue airing “Monday Night Football,” with select games beginning to also air on ABC this season. The broadcast network will also re-entered the Super Bowl rotation with its rivals CBS, Fox and NBC for the first time since 2006. For the second year in a row, Disney notched double digit increases in sports volume and pricing.

In addition to sports, Disney+ — which secured commitments from all agency partners — will continue to roll out high-profile Marvel and “Star Wars” series such as “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” (premiering August 17) and “Andor” (Aug. 31) while “Dancing With the Stars” moves exclusively to the streamer. Hulu also has long represented the gold standard for advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) platforms. Other categories that performed well for the company included diversified consumer services, financial services, media and entertainment, pharmaceutical, sports gaming and travel & leisure.

Overall, Disney’s portfolio of small screen assets across multiple mediums proved extra enticing to advertisers this year.

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