Media buyers, sellers and media analysts say ad spending on first-run and off-net shows will be down by single-digit percentages from last year or, flat at best. Still, despite the so-so prospect for syndication overall, media buyers and sellers say top-rated first-run syndies such as CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil will sell out fast with prices significantly up over last year.
With the newfronts and the upfronts coming up, there will be a lot of talk about online video vs. traditional television, and whether online can steal away any ad dollars. Of course, most people expect it to happen eventually. But right now, according to a new report from eMarketer, digital video’s ad dollars remain wildly out of whack with time spent with the medium.
Once dubbed the Gossip Girl network for bubble-gum shows that predominantly attracted teen girls, The CW has grown up over the last three years. And while most TV networks tirelessly try to bring down the age of their audiences, The CW will be eagerly boasting about its new maturity during this year’s upfront presentations to ad buyers.
NBC’s cable lifestyle group, which comprises of E!, Bravo, Esquire Network and Oxygen, is making a pitch that, if advertisers want to reach younger viewers, and in particular women, they offer scale and differentiated viewership that other programming groups can’t match.
Analysts predict another decline in volume for broadcast, and CPM increases will be minimal, as eyeballs move to SVOD. More inventory may be held back for scatter.
Given the steep ratings falloff across broadcast and cable this season, the TV networks are looking to the fast-growing car-hailing app Uber and other young tech companies to help reverse declines heading into this year’s annual upfront ad market.
With advertisers drilling down for smaller groups of consumers, Madison Avenue could see less need for TV’s big arena.
Ratings are down for top Spanish-language networks as viewership shifts to digital. But new advertisers will come in. Lia Silkworth, EVP and managing director at Tapestry, talks about what factors will affect this year’s upfront, how buyers view the ratings declines and which smaller networks buyers are eager to invest in.
After last summer’s tepid upfront market exacerbated fears that digital was finally clawing into TV ad budgets, media CEOs swore up and down that the later, so-called scatter market would bail them out. Trouble is, the rebound never happened, and if this year’s first-quarter trends are anything to go by, the 2015-16 upfront bazaar could be an even greater letdown than its predecessor.
And so it begins: the annual series of network announcements about programing in the upcoming TV season, setting the stage for upfront negotiations with ad buyers this summer. This time around TV networks are contending with a lackluster marketplace and coming off a weak 2014 upfront ad haggle.
Scatter pricing soared in January, reflecting strong demand that bodes well for May, never mind last fall’s declines in ad spending. The next few months are key.
Historical trends for primetime TV upfront spending continue to ebb. Media Dynamics, a media consulting company, says the growth of primetime TV upfront revenue has slowed over the last five years (for the broadcast year 2010-11 through 2014-15) from the previous five seasons. The last five upfront markets witnessed 11% higher spending to $90.5 billion — with cable up 29% and broadcast networks adding only 1%. Growth in the previous five-year period — 2005-06 to 2009-10 — was at 19% to $79.9 billion over the previous period.
Brian Weiser, an analyst for Pivotal Research Group, says that while “our pricing model indicates around 8% CPM increases,” the pricing will depend by how much inventory the networks make available and will not necessarily produce commensurate increases in revenue.
How people watch television has undergone some major changes over the past few years. Now so is the way television advertising is sold. Discovery Communications has decided to forego its traditional upfront presentation this spring, bypassing the big party in favor of small meetings with agencies and advertisers across the country. Media buyers point out the move was made largely due to financial concerns, but they also say they welcome the move to the smaller gatherings.