Every year, the television industry does a dog-and-pony show, trotting out its new and returning programs in elaborate presentations. Celebrities even appear to plug their new projects. The audiences at the upfronts are made up of potential advertisers, who are then wined-and-dined by executives to get these companies to write checks for commercial time, which is the lifeblood of every television network. The 2010 upfronts are finished and we can declare a winner.
According to the LA Times, the "most watched" network made the most at this year's upfronts. CBS took in $2.5B, with many millions of those dollars going into the pockets of Charlie Sheen and the cast of The Big Bang Theory. ABC came in second with $2.2B, despite big hit LOST bowing earlier this year. FOX, which airs fewer hours of original programming than its counterparts, sold a comparatively-well $1.9B worth of ad time. Second to last is struggling NBC, which sold $1.6B worth of commercials. Maybe the Comcast merger and the exit of maligned executive Jeff Zucker will turn them back around. In last place was the CW, which finished at $375M.
Ad sales were up from 2009, which is an impressive feat, considering that internet and cable continue to chip away at the ratings of the network giants. Of course, the figures are a little misleading, since last year the nets sold 65% of their inventory and close to 80% this year. As more audience members find their content elsewhere, it'll be interesting to see how long the networks can hold on to high sales numbers.