This Strong Upfront Like Older Markets, With One Big Difference: Price

The upfront never fails to re-organize our bravest expectations.

On the day when the upfront was off to the races and posting strong price increases, another so-called harbinger of future events, the stock market, tumbled over 100 points. The next day, Tuesday, the market shot up nearly 225 points. (In a related story, Walt Disney' stock went up 4.2% on that day).

We know by now that one thing has nothing to do with another thing. We are talking about a measly $15 billion broadcast and cable TV marketplace -- versus several hundred trillion dollars moving around the globe.  Still, it's always interesting looking at future business indicators to see if they are riding near the same wavelength.

Time will tell if the TV upfront market gives way to declining -- or weak -- scatter pricing. One wonders when and if that second part of the  "double-dip" in the economy might also hit the TV marketplace when the fourth quarter comes around. Don't be sure of anything.



We have all heard the projections and estimates -- that this upfront feels like those bold upfront markets of yesteryear.

 But that isn't exactly right. If anything, this TV upfront feels a bit conservative. One media executive says, "If this was five years ago, networks wouldn't be asking and getting 9% price increases, they'd be getting 15% or 20% price increases."

 Why? The executive explains TV broadcasters are worried that a couple of hundred million dollars could slip through their fingers into the waiting hands of cable networks, if broadcasters get too greedy.

Fox, for example, didn't mess around to see if it could grab even bigger increases by waiting to do upfront deals in mid- to late-June. Instead, it was off to the races right after Memorial Day weekend, on June 1.

For those TV sellers this could be characterized as a marketplace that is orderly, and -- dare anyone say it -- reasonably priced for many advertisers.

1 comment about "This Strong Upfront Like Older Markets, With One Big Difference: Price".
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  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, June 3, 2010 at 12:54 p.m.

    TV and radio are both experiencing dead-cat bounces for the simple reason that they represent the last vestiges of scalable reach, thanks in no small measure to the myriad failed targeting strategies that have rendered the Internet such a lousy branding medium.

    We should caution ourselves against reading too much into an active Upfront. Given the lay of the media land, the Upfront is nothing more than business as usual with the devil we know.

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