Dismal overall ratings, hyped new broadcast shows that can't even get 1.5 rating points among key 18-49 viewers, existing shows that have taken a sudden turn for the worse, and relatively little excitement for viewers. That’s the current state of Tvland. Looking forward to next season?
Upfront presentations are starting to perk along, with cable networks in the thick of it next month. April will be much of the same. And then the big broadcast networks come along in May, with ESPN, TNT, USA Network, and Univision trying to crash the party at the same time.
The challenge is on: What can old and new networks deliver in programming and otherwise?
Nielsen will continue to seek to make changes, recognizing all types of TV homes, including internet-connected TV sets (that still might be also connected to cable, satellite, or telco services), and perhaps figuring out how to fold in many forms of nontraditional TV viewing. The push goes on to include more time-shifted programming, online digital programming, and video-on-demand in one big programming ball of viewership.
But evolution can be slow. Don't look for changes in the C3 metric that has been around since 2007. But underneath it all, you can be sure TV networks won't be sitting around waiting for new metrics, surely not a new currency, to explain what is going on with video viewing, and related social media activity.
More networks will experiment: As we’ve reported, ABC has made a handful of C7 deals with some marketers over the last year or so. Expect ABC to continue to push for more of these media buys with selected marketers.
For some time now, Fox has been requiring 10% of a TV marketer's make-goods (for audience deficiency) will take place online. Expect Fox or other networks to find ways for more digital integration and monetization.
CW will probably push for deeper cross-platform deals, marrying traditional TV advertising messaging with digital messages for its TV shows that air on those platforms.
TV advertising currency may not be changing as fast as some would like. But making your own metrics until something better comes around? Not currency for sure, but something to lean on.
TV Seller: Hi Mr/Mrs. Big Advertisier, it's upfront season time again and I want to show you how our new lineup is going to look and project some incredible ratings and the best part is we will only charge you an 8% increase in cpm's this year!
Client: But wait Mr/Mrs TV Seller, 85% of the shows we bought on your Network were cancelled last year and the ratings shortfall was really bad....why do you think I would pay more for less again this year?
TV Seller: Because you always pay more for less....don;t you get it...this doesn't make any sense, just as it made no sense for people with very little income to buy $500,000 homes during the height of the Real Estate bubble! Everyone is doing it!
The golden goose is dead, but no one wants to admit it. Broadcast networks are built on program scarcity and limited options for viewing, neither of which have existed for years. It won't get better in a hopelessly-splintered media landscape. It's great being a viewer, not so much being a supplier. The situation is not unlike the demise of the newspaper business, where the Internet is supplanting the need for middlemen.
Amen Doug. Plus, the affluent subset which drives the majority of sales for many of the larger and higer end advertisers, are even tougher to reach because of the multi screen viewing, Smart TV's, DVR, working longer hours commuting, busier lives in top DMA's etc. When you compare the top 25 DMA ratings to 26-plus, the rating shortfalls are even more pronounced. But, they don't get it because the agency system is set up to push TV first despite what we all know to be true. Even the Superbowl, the pinnacle of advertising and commercial viewership felt like a bore this year....who remembers any of the ads besides some Madison ave folks?
Here's what's intriguing... That opening problem with ratings...that's a NETWORK TV problem - not a general TV problem. So let's be careful. There's thousand's of highly motivated people who want to reap huge financial benefits by dismantling what works quite well. And, as predicted by classic propaganda analysis, love to take in stats like that first one without balance - because they support their position. TV is changing as media ALWAYS changes. But is the golden goose dead? Not according to the sales impact we tracked from our TV work in Q4 (my agency ignores ratings - we track specific quantifiable impact at the store). Will it always be exactly what we saw in Q4? Who knows.
Doug, I understand the Direct response nature of tv is often times based on general tv, but the bulk of media dollars being spent buy the big advertisers (Ford, Verizon, Chase, GM etc) is being placed on Network and Cable primetime shows (if you can even call it primetime anymore)....but let's face it local News ratings are way down too due to online news/weather so that affects many local and national advertisiers who buy local spots as well (although every local news break has 4 autos so the clutter is abound as well as the ratings drop). I submit to you that the "general advertising" audience is stronger in the smaller DMA's for reasons previously stated, whereas the HHI and affluent subset are much tougher to reach because they have access to more devices in larger media markets where information is proliferating every waking minute. But there is still a total rating attrition that will only get worse as more of the "gneral audience" climbs on board the smart phone/tablet bandwagon. Soap Operas are dead and what is the next great show that is available in syndication? I don't understand how you can reach less people quarter after quarter (lower ratings) and have a good response? It seems to defy common sense. And on top of that pay more for it if you are buying Prime!!!
Michael - Here's what I know. We buy primarily national cable (best deal around - far better in general than broadcast, local markets, or network). And overall action results/response (directly as well as through retail) have maintained at the level today that they've been for 20 years. A lot (vast majority) of cable ratings have held nicely - even increased. But that doesn't explain it all. One hunch I have is contained in the segmentation of TV viewers that's been around for a while. Historically, TV research has suggested that roughly 1/3 mentally/physically skip all ads; 1/3 pay partial attention and 1/3 bascially see a lot of advertising. Recent research suggests that the DVR (for example) hasn't hurt TV impact because this behavior is merely automated with a DVR. I think it's also highly likely that any cable cutters come from the 1/3 "no how - no way" commercial avoiders. In other words, TV's impact never depended on them. So we don't lose impact with them walking away. That's a guess - but I'm sure there's some truth in it. How much? That's the adventure. :-)
A lot of the time its not the news that counts but who is reporting the news...