The market has been soft throughout the year and continues to be open. Plenty of remnant and scatter deals are still available as upfront sales are still being negotiated while other advertisers have come in lower than projected. Advertisers have been hesitant to commit to the same spending levels on upfronts as they have in the past as some advertisers are holding spend back due to product inventory availability.
Another factor for lower upfront spend is the negotiation of impression delivery for these deals. Advertisers are projecting lower impressions for upfront buys than the stations, causing some deals to be put on hold. There have also been plenty of “fire sale” opportunities in the cable, broadcast, and syndication space, which is a sign of a soft market.
News stations sold better in Upfronts compared to Lifestyle and Entertainment stations, with more deals pending, which makes for a more competitive market. That said, rates are holding steady year-over-year, the week-to-week fluctuation has subsided, and clearing rates are not quite as volatile from week to week.
With less breaking news compared to the past 2 years, inventory is much more stable, which eliminates the need to outbid competitors for the otherwise limited inventory available in the scatter market. CPMs remain flat as year-over-year viewership is holding steady with minimal fluctuations between dayparts for most demos. With year-over-year viewership remaining consistent, advertisers and stations were not far apart on delivery negotiations, which made for stronger upfront sales.
However, News and News/Talk Programs in local markets will be tight and competitive in 2022 due to mid-term elections. While national news networks may feel some pressure, the political races will have a greater impact on News and News/Talk programs in local markets throughout 2022.
Sports, as always, is a hot commodity. Of all the programming genres, this is the most competitive space, with Live sports events being the hottest ticket. While ESPN is tight in the remnant and scatter space, the other sports networks, while tight, are easily manageable. Viewership for the sports networks have stabilized in 2022 compared to 2021 where viewership was inconsistent.
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