New technology such as gaming consoles and online video have been blamed for a recent decline in ratings for children’s television. But in an odd quirk, they’re also proving to be a lucrative ad category for kid-focused networks. The kids’ upfront wrapped up last month with total sales about the same as last year at around $1 billion.
Asked to predict how total broadcast sales will compare to 2012, when the Big Five English-language networks sold $9.1 billion in inventory, the largest share of media buyers participating in a Media Life survey, 27% predicted a paltry 2% gain over last year. Nearly as many, 25% predicted that the tally will be down from last year, anywhere from 1% to 4%.
In a sign of how much advertiser hunger to demonstrate ROI and follow consumers to new platforms has increased, research in many forms seems to be increasingly finding its way into network recruitment. The importance of getting a currency in place with a single aggregated rating soon might be a benefit to Nielsen.
The biggest question CBS faces heading into its May 15 upfront presentation is how long ratings for aging shows like NCIS, Survivor, CSI, The Amazing Race and Two and a Half Men will hold up. All have aired for at least 10 seasons.
Broadcast television ratings have dropped sharply this season. And that, combined with the weak economy and competition from other media, augurs badly for the spring ad sales market, ad buyers and analysts say. Some of them are predicting that the broadcast networks’ take will be steady to slightly lower in the so-called upfront, the annual bazaar in which TV executives pitch their new shows for the coming season.