Do Big Upfront Food Events Translate To Big Ad Dollars -- Or Ratings Indigestion?

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To party or not to party? Everyone likes a good schmooze -- especially when its connected to big-time television, and you can hang with Zooey Deschanel.

Upfront presentations this week are looking to bring back some of the glamour -- NBC returns to Radio City Music Hall; USA Network joins the partyfest at the end of the week. Still, some like ABC dont offer big parties for media buyers and sellers (though we know that small private dinners with key clients are still in vogue).

Broadcast networks, and increasingly cable networks, are always tinkering with how best to entice senior media and marketing executives into believing their networks do a great job whether through key research presentations or by serving a memorable dish or two.

Back after the throes of the 2009 deep recession, broadcast networks toned down their flamboyant parties. Programmers and content owners didn't want to  flaunt opulence in the face of many of their viewers miseries -- and media executives also disdained the belief that organic sushi and French-style Twinkies would directly translate to media budget increases.

Some opulence may be returning -- and that may not be so bad. To some degree, the glamour-fun element t is a key part of broadcast networks identities -- even with declining ratings and perhaps a weakening of overall traditional TV advertising spending.

Nero fiddled; Rome burned; but the city survived in the end anyway.

The question is, when the smoke clears, will advertisers continue to pay more for broadcast TV shows? Yes, a bit. But overall volume has definitely slowed down, with many predicting at best 2% gains in overall yearly volume, to perhaps $9.3 to $9.7 billion.

Future dollar growth looks to be had in other places -- through Netflix program fee deals, continued domestic and international syndication, and retransmission revenues.

Perhaps they can spread their big party spectacles to those areas as well. Until then, happy shrimp and ceviche hunting.

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