The broadcast television advertising market is in full swing, with the top-rated
By Friday afternoon, CBS was close to finishing its advance advertising sales for the 2013-14 television season, notching rate increases of 6% to 7.5%, according to people familiar with the negotiations.
CBS is expected to wrap the annual auction with $2.5 billion in commitments for prime-time commercials. A year ago, CBS finished the auction with higher rate increases -- ranging from 8% to 10% -- for a total haul of $2.6 billion.
The lower volume suggests CBS did not sell as much inventory as last year, perhaps preferring to hold on to spots to sell through the season, when prices generally are higher than the upfront rates. The TV ad market is called the upfront because the broadcasters typically sell three-quarters of their commercial inventory for the coming season "upfront," or in advance of the season.
However, it will be tough for the broadcast industry to match last year's performance: A year ago, the five major English-language broadcast networks took in slightly more than $9 billion in commitments for prime-time commercials.
Fox in particular stumbled in the ratings for the season that just ended, compromising the
CBS, which ended the 2012-13 season in first place in total viewers and the important demographic of viewers aged 18 to 49, was expected to establish a ceiling on prices in the market. CBS boasts the industry's most stable prime-time schedule, and it had fewer holes to fill.
CW became the first network to wrap up its sales. The network -- owned by CBS and