Advertising Age is going way, way out on a limb (sarcasm) by predicting that this year's upfront won't be up over last years. It cites the credit crisis and looming economic depression among the culprits.
It's worth taking a look at, especially the PDF chart of "How It'll All Shake Out". It predicts only FOX will be up, but only slightly versus last years estimate of $1.9 billion. It predicts ABC will be flat, and that CBS and NBC will be slightly down. The prediction for the CW was a bit more dire: just "down".
Based on the AdAge estimates CBS was the big winner last year with $2.45 billion followed by ABC with $2.4 billion. With ABC live plus same day ratings off 16% versus last year and a "flat" prediction either scale carries a premium or they figure they'll push the live plus seven day ratings.
The biggest surprise to me was that last year FOX only marginally beat NBC in the upfronts by AdAge's estimate: $1.9 billion to $1.8 billion. And amazingly they have the C-Dub pulling in $1.8 billion last year which was down from the $1.9 billion in 2006.
That it's even remotely possible under any circumstance that FOX only pulled in $100 million more via the upfronts last year just goes to show that I completely lack any understanding of how television advertising actually works.
I wonder how much of the CW upfront money ultimately went to staffing the phones for the barrage calls saying, "We want our money back!" Update: Commenter "Statlc" offers up a probable explanation below: the PDF chart on the left is incorrect. He cites the article which states clearly: The CW's total is expected to decline 15% to $560 million.