Comcast’s NBC Said to Reach $2.1 Billion in Ad Contracts

Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s NBC broadcast network reached $2.1 billion in advertising commitments for the TV season starting in September, about 17 percent more than a year earlier, a person with knowledge of the contracts said.

The commitments amount to more than 80 percent of NBC’s ad inventory for the season, said the person, who sought anonymity because the contracts are private. Ad rates on average rose 7 percent to 8 percent from a year ago, the person said.

For the first time, NBC’s so-called upfront advertising commitments were negotiated alongside sister cable networks, including USA, the person said. The company airs the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, from Feb. 6 to Feb. 23 on NBC and several of its cable outlets.

The big draws this year for NBC are “The Voice” and “Sunday Night Football,” as well as the new programs “The Michael J. Fox Show” and “The Blacklist,” the person said.

The portfolio approach resulted in longer negotiations than CBS, Fox and Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s ABC. The total for NBC is separate from the cable and digital operations, the person said.

NBC’s commitments met the estimate of Jaison Blair, an analyst at Telsey Advisory Group in New York.

Last year, NBC negotiated about $1.8 billion in advance commitments for about 80 percent of its inventory, with rate increases averaging 5 percent to 6 percent, the person said.

Fox Sales

Fox broadcast network, part of 21st Century Fox Inc. (FOXA), garnered $1.75 billion in advance commitments, about 10 percent less than a year earlier due to lower ratings, a person said in June. The contracts represent about 80 percent of its inventory. Fox airs 15 hours a week of prime-time shows compared with 22 hours at CBS (CBS) Corp.’s network, ABC and NBC.

CBS, the most-watched U.S. TV network, neared $2.7 billion in upfront ad commitments, representing potentially 70 percent to 80 percent of its inventory, a person with knowledge of the situation said last month. The network was averaging 7.5 percent to 8.5 percent higher rates, the person said.

ABC recently completed advance sales for the next TV seeason, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. The network is averaging 7 percent to 8 percent higher rates, said the person, who declined to discuss other details.

NBCUniversal’s upfront commitments may be discussed when Comcast reports second-quarter results tomorrow. Comcast, based in Philadelphia, plans to hold a conference call to discuss results at 8:30 a.m. New York time.

Comcast, the biggest U.S. cable system, fell 1.6 percent to $42.71 at the close in New York. The shares have climbed 14 percent this year. NBC’s upfront commitments were reported earlier by the Los Angeles Times.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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