TV's Upfront: Six to Nine Times Bigger Than Online Video Spending for the Whole Year

This is a tough week for online video to get any attention. It’s TV upfront time, and the broadcast networks are touting their new fall lineups to Madison Avenue. Sure, digital extensions and online video add-ons will be part of many shows’ marketing efforts during the season, but the reality is online video won’t get much play at the TV upfront.


The dollars TV brings in are just too big. Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente predicted that broadcast upfront revenue would rise 4.3 percent over last year, with cable money to grow 6.3 percent. That will bring primetime ad sales for the broadcast networks to $9.49 billion and cable’s haul to $9.88 billion. That’s nearly $20 billion for TV just counting upfront money.


How does online video compare? MagnaGlobal’s most recent forecast said online video will grow 24% this year to hit $2.2 billion, while eMarketer has said online video ad spend would rise 40% this year to top $3.1 billion. Depending on which numbers you use, the TV upfront take will be six to nearly nine times the yearly haul of online video.




Am I just trying to make online video publishers and ad networks feel bad? No, because online video has a big advantage as industry analyst Will Richmond at VideoNuze points out.  “Online video advertising offers networks and advertisers the advantage of no ad-skipping by the viewer. True, some viewers flip over to other apps when an online video ad break occurs, but at least, they can't simply skip entirely, as they can with DVRs,” he said.


In fact, DVRs are now in about half of TV homes and the amount of time-shifted TV viewers watch continues to grow each year, Nielsen noted in its most recent cross-platform report.


That’s why networks like Univision plug their live viewership numbers. Univision’s prime-time programming is watched live 94% of the time, the network has said.


Plus, online viewing alternatives are gaining traction. Research firm Solutions Research Group reported this week that premium movie channels, such as Starz and Cinemax, are being “Netflixed, cord-shaved or both,” as consumers rely more on streaming options.


Take heart, online video business. It’s not your week, but it might be your decade.

2 comments about "TV's Upfront: Six to Nine Times Bigger Than Online Video Spending for the Whole Year".
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  1. Mark Burrell from Tongal, May 15, 2012 at 1:38 p.m.

    You also failed to point out that TV has an advantage of being an established model for 50 years? It'd be a stretch to say that Online Video has even been around for 5? 6 to 9 times bigger? It ought to be 100x bigger.

  2. Lowell Hussey from MobGenius, May 15, 2012 at 2:15 p.m.

    An interesting harbinger is included in your second paragraph. Cable surpasses broadcast and it's hardly even noteworthy. I was responsible for ad sales for a large Cable firm back when Cable advertising was considered a much longer shot than webvid ads. And, candidly, we had much bigger technological issues to solve in order to dependably deliver an audience.
    Where the viewers go, the ads will follow, after allowing for the requisite lag for industry folks to go through the grieving process for the death of their comfortable way of doing things.

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