2013 Upfront: Predictions & Prognostications: Part 1


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The retail industry waits all year for the holiday shopping season. The broadcast media industry waits all year for the upfronts. In both situations, sellers work feverishly to create that year’s smash hit, and buyers work just as hard to get the best deals. Of course, observers watch the action carefully, making predictions and trying to figure out what it all means.

Of course, Media is Power had to throw its hat into the ring. Read on for some of our overall predictions for this year’s upfront season from our team of national broadcast media contributing writers.

Numbers in the Crystal Ball
We expect the big four broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) to bring the lowest average rate increases in quite some time. The culprits: broadcast shows’ diminishing ratings, “hot” original cable programming delivering ratings comparable to broadcast and increasing interest in online video.

Despite these trends, we anticipate the networks will initially aim for double-digit rate increases. Buyers will stall, negotiate and come out with increases in the mid-single digits. Network television vendors will set the pace, with cable and syndication following close behind.

Screen-Agnostic Marketing Opportunities
Some networks will offer screen-agnostic deals, meaning wherever a video impression is served for a program, it will be counted toward the program’s overall delivery. However, until measurement of the impressions becomes more sophisticated, this type of advertising remains in its infancy stage. As it starts to mature, marketers will need to recognize the need for a video strategy as part of their overall marketing mix.

We know that consumers are viewing their favorite shows on televisions, tablets and smartphones. Multi-screen viewing is not the wave of the future; it’s crashing ashore right now. Networks are making the multi-screen experience easier by introducing apps for tablets and mobile devices, and marketers are becoming more and more comfortable with reaching consumers whenever and wherever they are viewing television. The biggest challenge lies in how to measure across all screens. An impression is an impression, regardless of where consumers watch video.

TV is Everywhere!
We’ve heard “TV Everywhere,” a phrase coined by Comcast, since 2009. What was once a lengthy process of installing and authenticating applications has slowly transformed itself into a more user-friendly model. The goal is to require less and less of the subscribers since they are all so accustomed to technology at their fingertips.

Some of the networks that already have TV Everywhere capabilities include Nickelodeon, whose multi-screen opportunities for advertisers are only available in the upfront. Disney’s Watch app offers full-length episodes through iTunes. The CBS iPad and iPhone app has a time delay of 24 hours to eight days from the original air date before viewers can watch full episodes. ABC combined its existing ABC Full-Episode Player and ABC Player app into the new Watch ABC. What does this mean for advertisers? On Watch ABC, there are five breaks per one-hour episode, with approximately three ads per break. The opportunity is there to buy the network’s unified package, but the ads will not air exactly as they do on-air. The ultimate goal is to have an identical experience on linear and the live stream, but they are not quite there yet.

Tomorrow we’ll look at more specific programming trends affecting broadcast’s annual spending spree. Stay tuned!

RELATED: Insights from the 2013 Newfronts

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Michele Toller
Michele Toller

As VP of Offline Investment and Activation, I challenge Empower MediaMarketing’s print, out of home and broadcast teams to think in terms of consumer behavior. We focus on reaching consumers on their terms, when they are receptive to receiving brand messages. Outside of media, I’m an avid golfer -- although my score doesn’t always reflect it. I’ve had the pleasure of playing Winged Foot, Oakland Hills Country Club and TPC Scottsdale.