CBS Posts Strong Upfront Ad Sales

CBS has completed its upfront advertising sales, off the back of a strong 2018 performance. A piece from Deadline.com had a person “familiar with the discussions” saying yesterday that they posted CPM gains of 14-16% in primetime and volume gains of 20% in late night. Volume gains in primetime were more like 5-6%. Digital is also tracking toward growth, including significant increases against last year, the source said.

Deadline explains that the TV upfront market is a minority of overall ad spending, but symbolically significant. And while the market continues to get more complex with other consumer viewing options like streaming, Deadline seems to see CBS’s performance as solid.

Quoting the piece, “CBS has been the total-viewing leader for 11 seasons in a row, averaging 8.9 million for the season. Even as linear viewing continues to erode and the pay-TV bundle frays, advertisers are still showing interest in the beachfront property controlled by CBS. While sitcom juggernaut The Big Bang Theory ended its run in May, the 2019-20 lineup appears solid. Entertainment president Kelly Kahl told reporters at the network’s upfront press breakfast in May that the goal is to be ‘stable but not sleepy, aggressive but not reckless.’”

Deadline also points out that this is the first upfront season for interim CEO Joe Ianniello, after Les Moonves’s departure last Fall. While Ianniello’s leadership was surely not the make-or-break for this season’s deals, it was important to demonstrate that the CBS ship is still floating high, even after Moonves’s departure.

Alison Pitt