National advertisers this time of year might be feeling the push and pull of networks promising fresher, original material. This provides the patina of more value for marketers -- though not always.
Network upfront presentations talk up lots of stuff. But with almost any cable network, one refrain keeps coming: “We are increasing our original programming development.”
You don't hear this cry from broadcast networks. It’s assumed they will offer new programming every year -- either from returning or new series. What you don't hear about during upfront presentations are all the reruns those networks will air during the course of a season.
Mind you, cable networks also rerun tons of programming in prime-time slots -- including shows that originally aired on broadcast networks like "NCIS," "Big Bang Theory," "The Office" and "House."
Digital video platforms that are also TV/video wannabes -- like AOL, Yahoo, YouTube and Netflix -- are talking up their original programming efforts, most of which have been disclosed during their “Newfront” presentations.
Nothing is wrong with repeat programming. While original programs grab the headlines, cable network reruns are the financial backbone of their operations.
Broadcast networks do their part as well. CBS, for example, gets the best results of all broadcast networks by re-airing programs. This is one reason -- along with good-performing first-run series episodes -- why national advertisers like CBS’ consistency.
For all networks, reruns – including time-shifted programming -- will be the bedrock of new digital business. For its part, the co-owners of CW say a deal to re-air programming on Netflix will make the network instantly profitable.
And reruns can be of big value digitally. Advertisers wind up paying three to four times the cost per thousand (CPM) for shows that have already aired on traditional TV (but with lower out-of-pocket total cost).
And there’s another factor to consider with reruns: Sometimes less original programming on networks makes us want it that much more. How many years was “Mad Men” off the air -- only to come back to record ratings? Viewers and advertisers need to pick their spots.