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Big Four-Shadowing: Ad Sales May Fall at Least 10%

0427 ESPRESSO nbc In what is potentially bad news for actors, two analysts are predicting a steep decline in the amount of money advertisers will spend on commercials when the Big Four networks trot out their fall schedules in a few weeks. Barclays predicts a 15 percent decline, from $8.76 billion sold last May to $7.43 this year, THR reports. Another analyst, Miller Tabak, predicts a smaller drop of 9.8 percent to $8 billion.

Combining the other two over-the-air networks, the CW and MyNetwork TV, Miller Tabak sees an $8.4 billion overall spend.

To counteract what will likely be lower prices for ads, the Big Four won't sell as much inventory as they did last spring; instead, they will hold on to 25-30 percent of their air time and sell it in the scatter market when the economy improves--they hope. (Scatter prices are typically higher than upfront prices, owing to the standard laws of supply and demand.)

 In another move significant to actors, the networks could make a move to entice advertisers: more product placement.

At least some good news, however: Embattled GM, one of the nation's largest advertisers, plans to buy ads at the upfronts. The car company has been virtually invisible on TV since the economy began to crater last September.

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