NBC Wraps Upfront Sales Boasting Pricing Advantage Over Peers – Just Like CBS DidNBC Upfront is wrapping with about $2.52 billion in primetime and late-night advertising commitments. That’s about a 15% increase compared to last year’s 2.25 billion. Across all its properties — broadcast, cable and digital — NBCUniversal brought about $6 billion this upfront – up from $5.4 billion last year. At NBCU, broadcast moves as one with cable and digital upfront sales; other networks handle the annual exercise differently. NBCU is “done – its whole portfolio,” explained one exec with knowledge of the situation.

The NBC broadcast network won the recently wrapped TV season in the demo for the first time in a decade with a 13% ratings spike — the biggest year-to-year gain for any Big 4 network in nine years. Even without its 18 nights of Sochi Olympics coverage, NBC boasted the season’s biggest demo audience, topping Super Bowl-boosted Fox. NBC’s gains blanketed the entire week, including double-digit year-to-year demo gains on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Its most talked about improvement: the 39% gain at 10 PM Mondays with The Blacklist originals – Blacklist being the season’s No. 1 new series and No. 2 drama, and NBC’s Monday being the top-rated regular schedule on any broadcast network in the demo, with an average 4.3 rating for regular programming.

One month later, NBC upfront pricetag was up 7.5% to 8% over last year’s prices – the highest reported increase in the market. NBCU “led the market in both rate of change and volume growth this Upfront,” NBCU CEO Steve Burke boasted today of his operation’s Upfront. (That flies in the face of CBS’ statement, made about 10 days back, that is is “very confident that CBS has once again achieved the highest pricing and most total dollars” in sales of prime time ads for the season that begins this fall. The tally does not include the NFL games CBS will air on Thursday nights for several weeks; they’re being sold separately.

The overall market is said to be weaker than expected with some advertisers holding back in the hope of landing better terms later in the season. Burke didn’t get that memo: “We also have made tremendous progress in correcting our historic monetization gaps,” he said in today’s statement about NBCU’s Upfront market.  “Through significant investments in our programming, the turnaround at NBC and our strategy to approach the market as one portfolio, we are confident that we are well positioned as leaders moving forward.”