Drone On: A Program To Get Excited About This Upfront?

Looking for something new and different to buy during this upfront market? We are not talking about just buying “audiences” — we are talking about old-fashioned approach of buying “programs.”

How about the new one about drone racing?

ESPN has signed a multi-year deal with the the official Drone Racing Association. First race will be in August, held on Governors Island in New York.

This upfront, slowing down long-term TV viewer erosion -- broadcast, cable, and otherwise -- is still the goal.

New TV programming options may seem to be discounted in a growing media ecosystem trending more toward “data-driven” efforts. But it shouldn’t. These issues may be amplified this season because TV networks are poised to ask for price increases  -- the first significant hikes in years.

Looking for new and exciting TV shows hoping to garner big viewership may be a hard goal. But there is still some chance of success.



Talk to Fox about what “Empire” did a year ago -- rising in ratings for every episode for its mid-season launch, a feat virtually unheard of in recent broadcasting TV history.

There were other TV surprises, too, like over-performance of the presidential debates, especially those with the unpredictable Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Sure, it may be impossible to bottle this kind of TV viewer excitement. But it could kick off some ideas for TV programmers on what should come next.

Right now someone is looking at taking the mantle away from the highest rated TV show among those key viewers advertisers still want from their upfront media plans -- 18-49 viewers. That would still be AMC’s “The Walking Dead. Other popular shows for this demo include HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” USA’s “Mr. Robot,” CW’s “Arrow,” CW's “The Flash” and CBS’s “Supergirl.”

Will we move on from zombies and music industry drama to pilot-controlled new flying devices?

It's impossible to predict hits. So proponents of audience media-buying versus program media-buying may have a point. So look, learn, and listen during these upfronts.

And then forget most of it -- with the exception of perhaps a small bet for an out-of-nowhere, honest-to-goodness, TV hit.

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