Upfront Comes Under Fire

Bill-Koenigsberg

Horizon Media's Bill Koenigsberg railed against the upfront process Thursday, saying it needs reform because it requires difficult long-term planning in an ever-changing business.

When he later suggested that four large holding companies have undue sway in the market, and the major networks unduly benefit from their read of the financials, he was met with applause.

Koenigsberg, the Horizon CEO, spoke on a panel at the ANA's annual TV forum in New York. He thinks the market needs to be altered, not abolished. "I think the industry has to come together and re-engineer it."

Having to plan for this coming market is troubling, particularly since Horizon needs time to evaluate new buying opportunities that pop up, such as capitalizing on the cable industry's TV Everywhere push.

"The world is changing every day; for us to be thinking about 2012 now is a huge problem," he said.

Fellow panelist MediaVest's Pam Zucker offered a contrary position, arguing that there are advantages to planning ahead. She cited long-term sports media contracts, which are not necessarily part of the upfront, while she advises clients that deals can be done year-round.

Marianne Gambelli of NBC said: "We transact all year -- we'll do whatever the customer wants." She said that discussions outside the upfront that involve multilayered initiatives are taking place more than ever.

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2 comments about "Upfront Comes Under Fire".
  1. Thomas Bridge from Media Management, Inc. , February 10, 2011 at 5:53 p.m.

    Bill is correct that the long-term planning cycle associated with the Upfronts is cumbersome. At the end of the day, clients want the best deal that they can get with full accountability and transparency.

  2. Bill Koenigsberg from Horizon Media , February 11, 2011 at 8:42 a.m.

    a bit misquoted in the article..two main points...spending billions blind in May for the following year makes no sense to the Marketer from a timing or business cycle standpoint..second...5 holding companies coming to the table all at the same time in in May plays right into the sellers hand and does not benifit the marketer and the seller.. don't abolish the upfront..re-engineer it!