Upcoming Upfront Nerves: Does Current Strong Scatter Signal Anything?

Start wondering what, if anything, a downtrending stock market -- and an iffy U.S. economy -- will do to this year’s upfront marketplace.

Network executives have been ebullient when looking at the current TV scatter market in the fourth and first quarter of this current broadcast season, touting very high pricing.

The TV upfront marketplace has always been a futures market for marketers, protecting their media investments against higher price increases in the following short-term, quarter-by-quarter “scatter” markets.

For almost two years -- ending this past summer -- there has been a soft TV marketplace overall, in upfronts and scatter markets. Now TV network executives are, somewhat surprisingly, talking up current national TV advertising activity.

Steve Burke, NBCUniversal CEO, had been worried digital media was making gains at the expense of TV networks when it came to the soft 2015 upfront marketplace. Would that continue for the 2015-2016 season? Nope.  



And even then -- as GroupM’s Rino Scanzoni has said, and from previous TV Watch observations -- a shift to digital media from traditional TV probably isn’t a negative for TV network-based media companies.

That’s because the majority of premium digital video viewing is going to TV networks’ premium TV content: prime-time TV shows seen online.

The TV upfront ad market then should then be a lesser indicator of  traditional TV advertising-based networks’ health.

Media analysts should campaign for publicly traded media companies to release metrics -- or at least some guidance on where digital advertising growth is going, including all time-shifting viewing on all platforms.

Until then, prepare for a cloudy picture.

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