Upfront TV Dollar Volume: Looking For Clearer 'Guidance'

Figure that future TV upfronts will only become less clear, more muddy, with more apples-to-oranges comparisons.

Now two major media groups -- NBCUniversal and now Fox Networks, both of which have broadcast and cable networks -- are pushing to sell all TV networks, broadcast and cable, in combined media deals -- at least as much as possible.

Fox Networks, CBS and CW have completed their upfront deals this year; NBCUniversal and ABC are still looking to finish.

Key for these networks is what comes next. Typical weak upfront markets mean networks decide to sell less inventory (68% to 70% of all their commercial supply) than they do in more robust marketplaces (where it can range from 75% to 80%).

Vijay Jayant of Evercore ISI estimates that this year broadcast networks will sell 69% of their inventory upfront, compared to 73% a year ago; cable networks will sell 49%, down from 51% a year ago.



Lower sales this year again are predicated on the expectation that scatter pricing will be higher than what’s grabbed during the upfront market. For this upfront, Jayant says broadcast will average weak 1.9% average increases on the cost per thousand viewers; cable will get 2.9%.

To be sure, TV-media equity analysts will be looking for more answers, or “guidance” -- proper parlance from senior \media executives, during second and third quarter earnings calls.

And next year? Don’t be surprised if all media companies look to add in more pools of revenue into their upfront volume disclosures -- broadcast, cable, sports, daytime, syndication, digital and otherwise -- to offer up a better picture from their perspective.

3 comments about "Upfront TV Dollar Volume: Looking For Clearer 'Guidance'".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 7, 2015 at 4:42 p.m.

    We think that the broadcast TV networks will do better than a 1.9% increase in CPMs----but until the ABC and NBC info comes in, that's just a tentative opinion for now.

    The main point is that despite dire claims to the effect that most TV advertisers are fed up and wont pay more per viewer, that didn't happen in the current upfront. It's hardly a fantastic turnaround, but it does tell us that linear TV isn't quite as dead as some keep saying.

    Until digital begins to provide enough worthwhile content to support more ad placements and until it deals fairly with its ad "viewability" problems, defections from "linear TV" will continue, but not in a "Dunkirk" -style let's get the hell outta here fashion..

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, July 7, 2015 at 7:59 p.m.

    Are they forced buys or can they be taken apart even with higher CPM's for better value ?

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 7, 2015 at 8:17 p.m.

    Paula, the networks have to sell most of their primetime in multi-show packages, without any individual pricing, just an overall price for the whole package---and the total GRPs, not show by show, are guaranteed. If the networks allowed cherry picking, they couldn't accomodate all of the advertisers as they all would want to be only in the top shows. The composition of the packages is negotiated, but if an advertiser wants to have representation in a number of top shows, he has to take lots of spots in the others.

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