Upfront numbers seem to add up

Upfront numbers seem to add up 1Broadcast networks are looking at a “much stronger” 2007 upfront than last year, Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen said Wednesday in her annual upfront forecast report.

Cohen predicts a 3% increase in total revenue for the broadcast networks this year to $8.7 billion, up from the loss of about $300 million the six nets reportedly absorbed last year, mostly due to the WB-UPN merger. For the Big Four, the expectations are for 4% total dollar amount and cost-per-thousand increases. The optimistic prognosis is based on a tighter-than-expected scatter market as well as the 2008 presidential elections and Summer Olympics.

ABC, on the strength of its successful move of “Grey’s Anatomy” to Thursday, is poised to lead the upfront, with Fox, which is riding the “American Idol” tidal wave, also in a good position, Cohen writes. She forecasts 5% revenue and CPM increases for ABC, which is poised to collect $2.1 billion, while her predictions for Fox are for a 4% CPM and 6% revenue increases for a total haul of $1.8 billion.

NBC is looking to reap benefits of stabilizing its schedule with 3% CPM and 5% revenue increases to $1.9 billion.

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