Few call the expected double-digit increases for the price of a thousand TV viewers [CPMs] for advertisers as "getting tough". But in the 80s and early 90s, many media agency executives felt sometimes strong armed by the networks --- at a time when TV broadcasters were more dominant.
Now, networks are looking to get tough again -- for different reasons. TV revenue is harder to come by, especially for the broadcast networks.
Fox has made it clearly known it is aggressively seeking s big revenue goals, getting there by whatever means possible. Right now it's targeting those newly discovered TV affiliates's retransmission dollars. Fox wants a piece of them -- perhaps 50% to 75% -- from TV stations deals with cable, satellite, or telco operators.
Tough negotiations always seem to describe the upfront. TV is still powerful, but not a lot has changed. Cable is strong, digital video is coming on, as well as a host of would-be new digital video operators looking to get a piece of the action.
Smaller broadcast ratings are still chased by big TV marketers budgets because research still shows -- even with all the entertainment options out there -- that all kinds of traditional TV programming still sell product. At next week's upfronts, expect to be sold more glitz.
How about a somewhat older-targeted "Glee"-like show? Steven Spielberg's "Smash," for NBC, might be the ticket. Thinking more crime drama? There's J.J. Abrams' "Alcatraz" for Fox, with "Lost" alumni Jorge Garcia. Something a little more tawdry -- with a racy title? There's "Good Christian Bitches" on ABC. Another revamped TV franchise? A new "Charlie's Angels" on ABC starring Minka Kelly.
Still, all this winds up to be a careful wager. Network executives would probably like to differ and say upfront deals are guaranteed, that the risk is low. That said, one knows a lot of what a TV advertiser buys can change in a given season: Media math will tell you that nine of ten new shows will ultimately fail, and, to complicate matters, media buying executives understand a client's needs will probably change somewhat through the year.
What does this mean? That marketers will need to still have a good time when it comes to play in TVland, sending out messages to TV business executives and consumers alike -- all who will hopefully remember their name.
Million-dollar bets will be placed. Tough-minded bouncers will be watching carefully, making sure a good time is had by all. Guaranteed.