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CCTV upfront sales slower this year as brands take ‘conservative’ approach to TV buying

CCTVSales at this week’s upfront airtime auction for China’s national television broadcaster CCTV are believed to have slowed significantly compared to last year, an executive at a media agency has said.

The live airtime auction was held in Beijing on Tuesday of this week, and for the first time the media was not permitted to attend. China’s slowing economy and the migration of ad spend to digital media are believed to be why upfront sales were not as brisk as in previous years.

Bidding at the auction came in at a total of around 17.5 billion yuan (US$2.9 billion), a 10.8 per cent increase on last year, according to pro-Beijing newspaper China Daily.

However, Marco Ma, iTV operation director of the integrated TV department at media agency Zenith China has suggested that the figure is likely to be lower, as brands took a more “conservative” approach to upfront airtime buying.

“Our observation is that brands have been more conservative and stable this year. Take the CCTV news billboard section as an example; the actual amount for 2015 is 5.3 per cent lower than for 2014,” Ma said.

“Like last year, CCTV has not announced the total amount [of airtime sold] and the official statement is that sales have risen steadily. We think that the actual total sales volume will be lower than the five-10 per cent increase that we saw last year.”

Ma added that year-on-year comparisons were made difficult because the volume of airtime available for advertisers to buy has fallen by around a third this year.

While CCTV was quieter about the upfronts this year, the company did announce that it sold naming rights for the third season of TV show A Bit of China to Ningxia Efone for 118 million yuan ($19.3 million).

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