Fox's Rice Says C7 Metrics Boosted Upfront Revs

Beverly Hills, Calif. -- Fox may have had a difficult 2013-2014 season, in terms of declining ratings for its ongoing series. But when it comes to the upfront sales for the next season it says it scored a big victory -- by one measure.

Peter Rice, chairman/chief executive officer of Fox Networks Group, in speaking at the Television Critics Association meeting here, said the network logged a major portion of its upfront revenues attached to C7 metrics -- C7 being the Nielsen average commercial ratings plus seven days of time-shifted viewing.

“We moved from a C3 to a C7 on about half of our upfront, and that was a good conversation that we had with the media-buying agencies, because ... they need to sell their messages. They need vehicles and they need really high quality video,” says Rice.

In addition to the usual metrics for scoring major upfront results -- higher increases on prices and higher upfront dollar volume -- TV networks added a new measure of success this year, angling to make deals on seven days of time-shifted ratings (C7).  

Until this year, TV networks have been predominantly paid on average commercial ratings plus three days of time-shifted data (C3).

Estimates are that when comparing the same CPMs, cost per thousand viewers of C3 to C7 -- adding four days of time-shifted data -- could mean 1% to 3% in overall revenue.

Rice did not go into other upfront details, such as price hikes or price decreases for C7 deals versus C3, that Fox obtained for its upfront deals. Media agency estimates are that Fox’s overall upfront revenue fell 10% to $1.6 billion.

Speaking about future TV advertising business changes, Rice was high on the prospect of “dynamic ad insertion” -- where TV networks could, for example, insert new TV commercials after three days of time shifting.

But he cautioned all this won’t be easy: “It's a very messy transition from where we are today to there.”
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