In the recently concluded upfront TV ad marketplace for the 2015-16 TV season, broadcast TV networks’ primetime spending sank 3.7% to $8.36 billion, with cable TV networks down 2.3% to $9.45 billion.
Madison Avenue and TV appear to be entering into an on-again off-again relationship. Advertisers still want to use TV, but they are trying to be coy about their intentions. Media-buying executives estimate the volume of ad commitments made to Fox, NBC, CBS, the CW and ABC declined during TV’s recently completed upfront market, when big advertisers earmark dollars for the networks’ new fall programming. Of the five English-language broadcast networks, only CW secured an increase, according to buying executives.
ABC on Tuesday confirmed that it has completed its 2015-16 upfront negotiations, thereby drawing to a close the broadcast portion of TV’s annual summer sell-off. Speaking to investors during Walt Disney Co.’s third-quarter earnings call, COO Tom Staggs said the Mouse House was “optimistic about ABC’s fall lineup,” adding that “advertisers have responded [to the new schedule] by agreeing to give ABC industry-leading pricing gains in our just-completed upfront.”
NBC Universal has closed out the last of its 2015-16 upfront business, writing nearly $6 billion in advance commitments across its portfolio of broadcast and cable assets. People outside the network familiar with the dealing said NBC’s broadcast division earned some of the industry’s highest ad-rate hikes, pricing inventory up 5% versus the year-ago period. Dollar volume at the network was up 1%.
For ABC, the upfront process has been a slow slog, as the network is holding out for stronger pricing than its apparently gotten across the board, a network insider says. After all, ABC’s ratings have risen year-over-year, as Shondaland Thursdays have become a game-changer towards the week’s end.
Viacom, which has suffered in recent years from ratings declines at its major cable networks, expects to notch a greater volume of advance advertising commitments as part of its annual upfront negotiations — but the reasons behind the slight uptick may have only a little to do with traditional TV.
Advertiser interest in latenight television is more intense than it has been in years, media buyers say — so much so that sponsors are willing to pay bigger price increases to advertise on latenight TV shows than they are in primetime. “I just think latenight is the hot daypart,” said Billie Gold, VP and director of buying and programming research at media buyer Carat. “There are days when latenight’s 18-49 numbers are higher than shows in primetime.”
The broadcast network sees moderate declines due to lower ratings; parent Fox Networks Group has flat revenue, slight price increases.
CBS is about to close its upfront sales with lower volume, according media buyers and other executives, who describe a marketplace in which Madison Avenue is earmarking fewer dollars for TV advertising and also placing more money against new forms of digital media.
It’s hard to say whether this indicates that the ad market is more robust than expected, or that The CW is simply taking business from its rivals. But the network co-owned by CBS and Warner Bros. just became the first broadcaster to complete its upfront selling with unit prices up about 4% and volume up between 12% and 15%, according to sources. CW picked up 30 new clients, including automakers, finance and retail companies.
Pricing is down from last year, with CPM gains ranging from 1% to 5%. Some networks are seeing declines. Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC are all writing deals.
TV’s annual upfront market has begun to move in earnest, but the networks are ceding some ground to Madison Avenue in the process. CBS, ABC and NBC have all begun to secure advance advertising commitments as part of the market for commercial time on TV, according to media-buying executives and other people familiar with the pace of negotiations.
More than a month after the networks presented their fall schedules to media buyers, the upfront market has finally broken. Fox has made a small number of deals for ad time in the coming TV season, buyers say. The other broadcast networks are still in negotiations but are expected to begin doing deals next week.
The upfront ad selling is underway, although the first reports involving deals with Fox probably won’t cheer network and programming execs. Unit prices are said to be flat to down a percentage point or two from last year at a company with a broadcast network that’s praying for a turnaround after a season in which its ratings plummeted 24%, dropping it from No. 2 to No. 4.
Its segmented audiences appeal to advertisers looking to reach certain demos. Other positives: Quality shows and live sports. But there are negatives.
Advertisers and buyers can talk up the array of alternatives, but when it comes to decision time they’re likely to opt for the safety of broadcast over the risk of the new.
Brian Wieser, a securities analyst at Pivotal Research Group, says the consensus on the upfront is that volume will be down by a few percentage points while pricing will increase by a few, but he cautions against using those numbers as a gauge of the health of the media companies. In this Q&A he also talks about excessive media concern about the shift of ad dollars to digital media, the need for big new ad categories, the pluses of programmatic buying and more.
For the next several weeks, Linda Yaccarino will be one of the hardest working people in television. As chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships for NBCUniversal, she’s overseeing upfront negotiations for a robust TV portfolio that includes two broadcast networks, 17 cable channels and more than 50 digital properties. Before ramping up her upfront negotiations, Yaccarino talked about plans for next season, her company’s big swings and of course, the d-word.
Madison Avenue is moving more quickly than anticipated to ensure pitches for electronic toys and holiday movies get put in front of the consumers most likely to be interested in them — kids and teens.
But C7 will not replace C3 as the currency for most upfront negotiations. Agencies will push for other metrics to be considered, too. Expect a long, drawn-out upfront.
Networks roll out new services that mine big data for better ways to target the right audience. The argument: Your ad dollars are better spent with us than elsewhere.
The transformation of the “TV business” into the “content business” has accelerated to a gallop, forcing the industry to face the harsh realities of trying to run a traditional network in an on-demand world. The signs of upheaval were impossible to miss last week as the major networks closed out upfront season with 2015-16 schedule presentations that emphasized how much they recognize that there’s no such thing as a status quo anymore.
Comcast Corp. long-protected set-top cable subscriber box data — highly desired by many TV research services — is getting another release, this time as NBCUniversal’s new audience/data platform.
Nothing illustrates the spirit of salesmanship quite like the use of statistics to claim superiority in evidence at last week’s broadcast networks upfront presentations. CBS, NBC and ABC all assured advertisers that they were the No. 1 network.
NBC’s cable networks brought the curtain down on TV’s upfront season Thursday night with an emphasis on bigness. It was the theme adopted at the outset of a wide-ranging presentation staged on behalf of USA Network, Bravo, E! Entertainment Television, SyFy, Esquire Network and Oxygen — the largest of the cable networks grouped under the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment banner.
Now that the major networks have set their fall schedules, take a look to see which shows will be duking it out for viewers. Will Supergirl be able to upset fellow DC property Gotham? How will Greg Berlanti‘s six (that’s right, six) new shows fare?
Here’s the first look at The CW’s new series trailers for 2015-16: DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow, Containment and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Here we go again — all the optimism and promise of a new fall TV season with the full knowledge of those critical crashes and ratings burns still to come for the Big 4 and The CW. The fact is that even with all the chatter of CBS going younger and Fox going more genre, there’s a lot of the same old same old and a lot of NFL on fall’s schedule. Check out the 2015-16 primetime broadcast schedule, followed by an analysis of key matchups.
What pilot season? The CW is introducing a fall season that doesn’t feature a show developed at the network over the last nine months. The lone new series on its schedule is hour-long comedy Crazy Ex-Girfriend, a last-minute pickup of a project originally developed and piloted as a racy half-hour comedy for Showtime.
A female superhero, a spinoff and two shows based on movies. Here are the show descriptions and first looks.
Donna Speciale, president of Turner ad sales, told clients Turner is “one unified portfolio representing 15,000 hours of premium content, on every screen, every platform … reaching 75% of all Americans. In this new world, dayparts are dead,” Speciale told advertisers, who are increasingly buying branded content and pre-rolls, not traditional :30 commercial time.
At the Turner upfront Wednesday morning, Kevin Reilly rolled out a very ambitious plan, including a rebrand of TBS, a makeover for TNT, a goal to double production of original content over the next three years, and a new ad program called the Turner Data Cloud. It’s all a part of a push by Turner, and cable TV generally over the past few years, to compete more closely with broadcast for both ratings and ad dollars.
CBS this morning confirmed that CSI will end its 15-season run with a two-hour finale, featuring original stars William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger. The two-hour movie will air Sept. 27, the first Sunday of the season. Additionally, current CSI leading man Ted Danson will be transitioning to new spinoff CSI: Cyber starring opposite Patricia Arquette.
CBS will introduce three new shows in September, comedy Life in Pieces and dramas Limitless and Code Black, joined by drama Supergirl and comedy Angel from Hell post-football.
Television networks are offering new data-driven products to help advertisers reach targeted audiences even as they shift to digital and social media.
On Tuesday, ESPN introduced plans to expand two of its most valuable franchises, the ESPY Awards and the NFL playoffs, beyond cable to its sister network, ABC, which like ESPN is owned by Disney. ESPN said it will begin simulcasting the ESPY Awards, which air over the summer, on ABC. It will also simulcast one of its NFL wild card playoff games on the broadcast network, which has not had rights to the NFL since 2005.
Telemundo and NBC Universo are loading up on new shows that are a big departure for Spanish-language television, from scripted drama series to shows with second-screen apps and virtual reality woven into the storytelling. And sports also is a big priority for NBCU’s Spanish-language networks now that it has nabbed the Spanish-language rights to the next three World Cup championships.