While for fans, the broadcast network upfront meetings are all about shows, for the networks they're the start of the negotiating process for advertising sales for the next broadcast season.
Based on one analyst's expectations, the ad rate (cost per viewer reached) increases most of the broadcast networks are likely to get for next season will just keep their revenue steady based on their audience losses.
Broadcast networks will likely seek up to 10%-12% advertising rate increases in the upfront market, "but may ultimately settle for rates in the 6%-9% range," Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Tony Wible suggested Thursday.
via The Live Feed | THR.
Compare that expected increase of 6-9% with the audience losses in the adults 18-49 advertising target demographic in the chart below.
Audience losses at ABC, CBS, NBC and the CW seem likely to keep revenue at those networks fairly flat from year to year if those rate increase estimates hold up.
Note that the xCBS line is the ratings decline CBS suffered with the 2010 Super Bowl week factored out. The xNBC line is the ratings decline NBC suffered with the Winter Olympics and the 2009 Super Bowl week factored out. And while it's not in the chart, the CW declined about 10% in its target women 18-34 ratings demographic.
It would be better to be able to compare the changes in the C+3 day commercial ratings (which is what advertisers actually pay for) instead of the "most current" (which is primarily Live+ 7 day DVR viewing) program ratings (in the chart). Particularly since most of the evidence we have seen is that C+3 trends are a bit worse for the networks than Live+7 ratings trends.