2013 Upfronts Creating TV-Worthy Drama


This year’s upfront presentations have all the elements of a great prime-time television drama: a relatable protagonist, the troublemaking antagonist, a mysterious dark horse and tantalizing clues about what it all means.

This year’s saga started in early spring with chatter and rumors of upcoming shows and stars. The tale will end around late summer when networks and other media report their final numbers. Like any good story, the upfronts feature an exciting climax, which occurs this week. Media is Power will provide all the details as they unfold. For now, let’s set the stage.

A Screen-Agnostic Hero
Not surprisingly, the biggest theme running through this year’s upfronts is the rise of multiscreen viewing. Screen-agnostic content and related “blended” marketing campaigns are lauded as a great way to reach consumers, but not everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. For example, not every traditional broadcast channel is attending the 2013 NewFronts (the digital equivalent of the upfronts).

The Trouble With Measurement
Not every brand has embraced the blended media approach, because the industry has yet to come up with a consistent way to measure results from such campaigns. This issue rears its ugly head when the industry falls into two camps: those want to jump into the messy new versus those who want to stay grounded in cost per thousands (CPMs), gross rating points (GRPs) and other time-tested ways of measuring results.

A Dark Horse Called the NewFronts
There is no consistent, industrywide opinion of the NewFronts. Some claim the NewFronts represent the future of media; others claim they’re another excuse for media publishers to throw parties and show off in front of each other. Media is Power contributors attended the NewFronts and will be weighing in on the issue later this week.

The Tantalizing Clues
Ad spending during last year’s cable upfronts reached $9.8 billion, a five-percent increase from 2011. Ad rates for the big five broadcast networks rose 5-9 percent. While not a guarantee, these point to the potential of a flat to modest increase during the 2013 upfront.

Even after this week’s big reveal of fall prime-time schedules, we’ll have to stay tuned to see how this year’s upfront plays out. For those of us in the media and marketing space, it’s usually as different as it is the same — not unlike the plot of your favorite TV drama.

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Melissa Booth
Melissa Booth

I believe good content either informs or entertains. Great content does both. As Managing Editor for Media is Power and Empower MediaMarketing, I strive to make sure everything here hits that sweet spot as closely as possible. I've spent a decade-plus in the marketing industry and like to think I've developed a taste for content of all types -- good, great and otherwise.