ABC, NBC, Fox Said to Finish Ad Sales Orders for 2012-13

Walt Disney Co.’s ABC broadcast network, Comcast Corp.’s NBC and News Corp.’s Fox finished taking advertising commitments for the TV season starting in September, people familiar with the situation said yesterday.

ABC collected about $2.4 billion in orders and Fox booked $1.95 billion, both little changed from a year ago, while NBC received $100 million more than last season’s $1.7 billion, said the people, who weren’t authorized to talk publicly.

The four major broadcast networks are holding onto a similar amount of advertising inventory to sell during the season, betting the economy will improve and spur demand for TV commercials. CBS, the most-watched network, sold about 78 percent of its inventory, less than a year ago, while ABC, NBC and Fox were little changed, the people said.

“All the television networks are holding back a little bit more volume, hoping they can sell those spots at higher rates during the season,” David Joyce, an analyst at Miller Tabak & Co., said yesterday in an interview.

Fox, home to “American Idol” and “The Simpsons,” sold about 80 percent of its advertising inventory, little changed from a year ago, at rates that are 8 percent to 9 percent higher than last season, said one of the people.

With Fox’s prime-time schedule an hour shorter each night than the other major TV networks, Credit Suisse Group AG analyst Spencer Wang estimated last month that the network would receive about $2.03 billion in so-called upfront commitments.

Fox Leads

For the eighth straight time, Fox finished last season as the most watched among 18- to 49-year-old viewers, a group targeted by advertisers. Fox plans to add five new shows next season, including “The Mindy Project” and “Ben and Kate.” Last month, Fox said it plans to retool the “Idol” singing competition to reverse ratings declines.

News Corp., controlled by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch, fell 0.7 percent to $19.57 yesterday in New York trading. The stock has climbed 9.7 percent this year.

ABC, home to “Modern Family” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” negotiated rate increases of 6 percent to 8 percent, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to talk publicly. ABC sold about the same volume as last year, the person said.

New Programs

ABC is adding 10 shows next season to bolster a lineup with returning first-season dramas “Revenge” and “Once Upon a Time.” The network tied NBC last season for third among 18-49 viewers and trailed News Corp.’s Fox and CBS Corp., ABC said in a June 11 e-mailed statement. Wang estimated in a May 11 report that ABC would receive $2.35 billion.

“666 Park Avenue” and “Last Resort” are among the six new dramas that will air next season. ABC also is adding four comedies, including “How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)” and “Malibu Country.”

Disney, based in Burbank, California, gained 0.3 percent to $46.23 yesterday in New York trading. The stock has climbed 23 percent this year.

NBC negotiated 6 percent to 7 percent higher rates than a year ago, one person said, based on stronger ratings from “Smash” and singing competition “The Voice,” its most popular show after “Sunday Night Football.” Wang estimated the network would take in about $1.66 billion in orders.

Comedy Nights

In its second full schedule under Comcast ownership, NBC plans to air comedies five nights a week next season, including “Animal Practice” and “Guys With Kids” from Jimmy Fallon.

Other comedies joining NBC’s schedule include “Go On,” with Matthew Perry as a sportscaster, and “The New Normal” from “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy.

Comcast, based in Philadelphia, fell 1.5 percent to $29.98 yesterday in New York trading. The shares have climbed 26 percent this year.

CBS, owner of the most-watched U.S. TV network, collected about $2.7 billion in commitments at a rate increase of about 10 percent, a separate person said June 12. The network sold about 78 percent of its inventory, the person said. Wang forecast CBS would gain $2.78 billion in commitments, the most among the major networks.

Broadcast and cable networks released their 2012-2013 schedules during so-called upfront meetings with advertisers in New York the week of May 14 before booking advance commitments.

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