NBC has secured commitments of about $1.9 billion in prime-time advertising for next season, people close to the network said, making it the first broadcaster to sell out almost all of its inventory in broadcast television's annual "upfront" ad-sales marketplace.
While the fourth-place network by viewers has brought in more money this upfront than last, it had to sell more of its ad inventory to get there -- about 80%, three to four points more than last year. It is a sign, in part, that advertisers are shifting money to the upfront that they would have otherwise spent later in the year.
Broadcast networks typically sell about three-quarters of their advertising during the upfront and save the rest to sell in the "scatter" market closer to airtime. But dwindling ratings have lowered the amount of inventory and have driven scatter prices sometimes more than 40% above what similar advertising would have cost in last year's upfront. That has led some advertisers to shift money from scatter, a strategy that lifts commitments now but could shrink spending later.