May 15, 2018 - Economy & Business

TV networks fight for billions in ad dollars during upfronts

A television illustration

Illulstration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Traditional TV networks spend millions of dollars renting out fancy venues and bringing in talent acts to wow advertisers their annual upfront presentations. The schedule is itself a thing of prestige. Only the top-tier networks will present in New York this week.

Why it matters: Billions of dollars of advertising dollars are spent on advanced commitments of programming during the TV upfronts season.

Media Dynamics, Inc. estimates that total ad revenue for the broadcast TV networks and cable channels amounted to nearly $20 billion last year, while Variety estimates that the five English-speaking broadcast networks will earn between $8 billion to $9 billion.

The big takeaways so far, per Variety:

  • NBC: Executives took digs at Facebook and talked about brand safety, while touting the success of some of its classic programming — like Project Runway and America's Got Talent — and the Olympics. "This is Us" is their golden egg.
  • Fox: Executives didn't shy away from questions about "New Fox," football is still the network's Holy Grail and unscripted series are on the rise.

What's missing? Dozens of shows have been cancelled this season as networks shift their primetime priorities. (The Wrap has a full list.)

What's next: ESPN and Disney/ABC are up today. CBS and Turner are Wednesday.

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