CBS signed on Ashton Kutcher to its hit show 'Two and a Half Men' just in time for the TV Network Upfronts, which start on Monday.
This is the networks' big chance to trot out their new shows and remind advertisers that returning shows have a devoted audience.
After quite a lull in ad spending, we should see a massive rebound this year -- with a record $9.5 billion dollars expected to be spent on Upfront ad sales.
The rebound isn't due to higher ratings -- in fact ratings are down -- but instead thanks to sky-high ad rates in the "scatter" market so far this spring. What happened? Last year advertisers held back and bought fewer ads, leaving a huge amount of volume to be sold later, and in the past few months ads have been selling at rates 40 percent higher than last year's Upfront rates. Rather than face such sticker shock, marketers would rather lock in prices now.
CBS securing Kutcher to star in television's top rated sitcom is meaningful -- the networks are now ready to showcase their lineups.
CBS has the most stable schedule going into the fall and it also has the largest audience. Now there are very few questions about CBS lineup in the fall -- it has reliable procedural dramas, NCIS, CSI, and Criminal Minds, reality hits, led by 'Survivor,' and now its comedy lineup has an anchor as well. What about Sheen bashing Kutcher's ability to fill his shoes? It's worth remembering that Kutcher starred in another hit sitcom -- 'That '70s Show' which took top ratings from 1998 to 2006.
On Monday I'll be reporting on the state of the advertising business from CNBC Headquarters. Tune on on TV and check back on the blog for more on the Upfronts and the state of the TV business today.
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