The CW’s New Sunday Night Slate Helps Boost Upfront Volume 15 Percent

Network is the first broadcaster to finish up this year’s sales

The CW's upfront buyers flocked to Riverdale (above), Black Lightning, Charmed and All American. Katie Yu/The CW
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The first broadcaster has crossed the upfront finish line with The CW wrapping its negotiations today, two weeks earlier than it did in 2017.

And with strong buyer interest in the network’s additional night of programming this fall—it’s expanding to Sundays for the first time since 2009—The CW saw volume gains of 15 percent this year, according to a source familiar with negotiations.

The network pushed for CPM (cost per thousand viewers reached) increases in the low double-digits.

Ad sales chief Rob Tuck wrapped upfront sales before the network, or any other broadcaster, even announced its fall premiere dates.

In addition to the new Sunday night lineup (which includes Supergirl and a reboot of Charmed), upfront buyers flocked to Riverdale, last season’s midseason superhero hit Black Lightning and new drama All American. The network also saw robust sales on its digital platforms.

Last year, The CW saw volume hikes between 3 and 5 percent and pushed for CPM increases in high single and low double digits.

By expanding to Sunday nights again (it previously did so from 2006 to 2009 before giving the time back to affiliates), the network wanted to send a bold message to advertisers and viewers by programming more scripted hours this fall than NBC, ABC and Fox. “We do believe in broadcasting,” network president Mark Pedowitz told reporters last month. “We wanted to stake a claim that we are growing while others contract.”

The Sunday move also gave The CW 20 percent more ad inventory next season, exciting buyers seeking the network’s 18-34 audience.

“Adding an extra night, as long as it’s remotely successful, is definitely a good thing,” one buyer told Adweek last month. “I think it really helps. As a buyer, I’m really excited by that because it makes The CW probably more willing to deal this year than in other years, where they’re just like, ‘This is it: We’ve got limited shows, and everyone buying an 18-34 demo wants it, so here’s what you’ve got to pay.’”

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.