Nellie Andreeva

Upfront dealmaking continued to pick up speed today, with market leader, top-rated network Fox, setting up the pace. Fox continued to land major ad commitments both for its sports portfolio, which includes the Super Bowl, and its entertainment programming, at CPM increases in the high single digits (said to be around 9%). The rest of the networks are also in active negotiations with ad agencies.

“There’s a lot of activity,” CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves was quoted as saying today at a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. conference in New York. “The guarantees are where we’d like them to be. The numbers are where we’d like them to be. It’s a very strong marketplace.” He expects a lot of deals to be completed by end of the week and CBS, the most watched network, to sell as much as 80% of its inventory.

With the upfront market much healthier this year, the networks are expected to hold a lot less of their ad inventory – from 30%-35% last year to 20%-25% this year. That would additionally boost the overall volume of upfront ad sales, which could rise as much as 20% and top $8 billion for the broadcast networks.

At the same conference, Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger said ABC too is “in the middle of selling” an that “the business that we’ve written so far… has been good and in line with what we are expecting.”

Meanwhile, the CW issued a statement this afternoon: “The CW’s upfront sales are moving rapidly. The broadcast network with the youngest median age is seeing growth in all key categories (retail, wireless and health & beauty) and resurgence with autos, both domestic and foreign.”

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