Whither The Digital TV-Video Upfront Now?

For all the efforts of the digital media companies during the Newfront presentations, what was the ultimate result?

Listening to the traditional TV media executives, the upfront market was still a hard road to travel. In Comcast’s earning call, Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal, said concerning the recently concluded upfront activities: “Ad agencies decided to be less aggressive... They will show up in scatter. We may be wrong. But that’s our analysis….If scatter is strong, this could be a good year for advertising.”

Estimates are total broadcast/cable upfront dollars will sink 6%, to land at $18.1 billion when all is said and done.

Burke doesn’t believe traditional TV networks were hurt by digital video providers, including YouTube, Yahoo, and AOL, who pushed advertisers to shift dollars away from TV during the Newfront presentation efforts in the spring.

Supply. Demand. Scarcity. You can still buy digital video anytime of the year, like buying ad opportunities on radio. Premium video may be a different story: “Large-scale, holistic upfront planning of big TV-centric budgets across both television and digital video is not going to happen this year – at least not in an industry-wide manner,” Scott Ferber, chairman/chief executive officer of digital video ad company Videology wrote earlier this month. He also said: “We may see a few of the larger video powerhouses getting a slice of the pie in upfront spending this year.” Details? Not yet.

So ask the question again: Where did that 6% decline in TV network ad revenue go this year? Don’t necessarily jump to any conclusions  that it went to the digital video area. Regular TV advertisers may be holding back revenues, looking to do what they always have done when they see perhaps lower price/cost opportunity -- waiting to spend some on TV in the scatter market -- just like Burke and other TV executives have seen in the past.

New digital platforms? Still counting -- on a handful of deals and money to come.

Tags: tv
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