Disney’s upfront advertising process ended with a record $9 billion in ad sales – 40% of which came from streaming and digital. Disney has become the latest publisher to finish upfront.
This is the first year Disney has offered Disney+ as an advertising option. The forthcoming ad-supported tier of Disney+ was cited by the company as a game-change and particular strength among its platforms, which also include ABC, Disney Channels, ESPN and ESPN+, Freeform, FX, Hulu, and National Geographic.
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What is an Upfront?
Uninitiated viewers may not know that broadcast and cable networks hold spring events to promote their new programming lineups. As a classic futures market, the idea is to entice media buyers to commit to ad contracts for shows months or even years down the road. To put it another way, they buy inventory in advance.
Disney at the Upfront
The 2022-23 upfront posted the second straight year of double-digital gains in sports volume and pricing.
The CPM(cost per thousand viewers reached) increased in streaming, sports, broadcast, and cable, the company said, with prime seeing double-digit increases and high single-digit increases in addressable ads. In contrast to traditional advertisements, addressable ones can be targeted based on a person’s purchase history or other factors far beyond their age and gender.
The company also said it secured DEI commitments from every top-performing categories included Diversified Consumer Services, financial services, media & entertainment, pharmaceutical, sports gaming, and travel & leisure. The demand for Disney HuluXP, an integrated video ad platform across the Disney portfolio, also increased. Rita Ferro, president of ad sales for Disney Media and Entertainment said in a statement,
“Disney Advertising entered our 2022-2023 upfront committed to executing on our strategic priorities – streaming, multicultural and inclusion, sports and entertainment – and we delivered.
I am proud to partner with all of our clients to reach audiences at scale across all screens, and alongside the most premium content.”
The upfront process has been unlike most previous years for all of the major media companies. Traditionally, the upfront sales should wrap in the spring instead it dragged into summer this year. With streaming the ritual has become more complex and less calendar-based, allowing network parents to weather the ongoing decline in traditional bundles and overall live tv viewing.
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What is important for Disney?
Ferro gave Adweek an overview of Disney’s upfront priorities in May and said,
“The upfront was really about how do we tell a big-picture story of the volume of content coming from the Walt Disney Company because we have a lot of different endpoints, and we’re the home of streaming in a way that no one else has in the marketplace, premium storytelling in the streaming space with Hulu that has been around for 14 years. But since it was integrated and we took operational control a couple of years ago, it has been a driver of the AVOD opportunity in the marketplace.”
The new ad-supported tier would be coming to Disney+ later this year and would be launching internationally next year.He also explained that it will have an average of four minutes of commercials per hour.
“The reason for that is we know most people come to Disney+ for our movies, and movies have a different ad load than a series would. So what drives Hulu is more series. What drives Disney+ is more consumption of movies, and therefore the ad loads will look different. So it’ll be an average of four minutes an hour, but it depends on the types of content you stream.”
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