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ABC Finishes Upfront Sales; All Networks Secure Increases

Sources tell me that ABC has finished its final upfront ad deals, and has secured 8 percent to 9 percent ad rates over last year. I don't have any details on the percentage volume increases ABC secured, but Disney's network has certainly sold closer to 80 percent of its inventory than the 65 or 70 percent the networks sold on average last year.

The only network that hasn't wrapped up its upfront ad sales yet is NBC , which is also owned by CNBC's parent, NBC Universal. Sources tell me that NBC's on track to finish its Upfront sales by Friday at the latest. The volume of ads the network is selling is already up by double digits over last year. NBC's rate increases are in line with the rest of the networks.

The industry norm this year is high single-digit percentage increases. CBS wrapped up its upfront yesterday, securing close to 10 percent rate increases. The network wouldn't comment on details, but the company released a statement: "As we close out the Upfront, we are pleased to once again be in the leadership position with rate increases and total volume commensurate with our number one standing in the marketplace."

Fox and the CW, a joint venture between CBS and Time Warner , both completed their upfronts last week, all securing high single digit percentage rate increases. The CW benefited from packaging TV and web ads.

Why the uptick if the economy is still suffering? It's simple—after last year's weak upfront, with rates down by double digits, prices in the last minute, or "scatter" market skyrocketed as much as 30 percent higher. Marketers would rather pay 9 percent more than last year now, rather than be stuck competing for last minute ad time, paying a 30 percent premium.

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