Upfront Network Execs Downgrade Digital Competition

So far this upfront week, two TV network presentations, NBC’s and Fox’s, looked to boost their respective advertising efforts by making pointed attacks on the competing digital video business.

Toby Byrne, president of advertising sales for Fox Networks Group, alluded to this in talking about scale -- that Fox programming on all of its networks and platforms reaches a big 88% of all 18-49 viewers.

Then things got more specific: “Non-premium subprime video may offer moments of interest, but we provide an immersive experience,” he said. He noted over 90% of all consumers video time goes to “premium” video -- that is, big traditional TV shows. He added millennials still spend 80% of their time watching TV content.

“The digital metrics game is rigged,”Byrne said. He talked about a misleading published report, where one Fox World Series game with 14 million viewers was compared with a popular YouTube video also touting the same 14 million number.



But the YouTube video was actually digital “views”; the World Series game number in “average minute audience.” Digital media platforms typically use “views” or “unique viewers” -- but both aren’t defined by any time duration.

Byrne said in reality the YouTube video totaled only 1,620 viewers, when calculated by traditional TV network average minute audience standards.  But if you want to look at the World Series in “views,” that would come to a massive 6.8 billion.“Deceptive stats like this get published all the time,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Linda Yaccarino, chairman of  advertising sales and client partnerships for NBCUniversal, took another approach:  “The average American spends seven times as many hours watching television as they do on Facebook, and 15 times more hours on television than they do watching YouTube.”

In both cases, what wasn’t said was all the negative stuff about digital media -- especially digital video. This includes transparency, viewability, fraud (including “bots”),  and, of course, ad blocking.

Why not? Possibly because, in part, this could open a can of media worms. Traditional TV networks are also in the digital media business. But senior media agency executives say the likelihood of their branded video apps or the likes of Hulu having any of these issues is virtually nonexistent.

More than that, executives says there is now a two-tier digital video  marketplace: The “premium” video marketplace -- mostly traditional TV shows ad-supported on digital platforms -- and everything else. This is what Byrne referred to as “subprime video.”

In the future, look for pure digital video businesses in their “newfront” presentations to work “premium” into pitches -- or maybe “sub-prime” adjectives for TV.

The media war of metric words has only just begun.

1 comment about "Upfront Network Execs Downgrade Digital Competition".
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  1. Ari Rosenberg from Performance Pricing Holdings, LLC, May 17, 2016 at 8:38 p.m.

    Great piece Wayne.  Internet/Digital sales folks are SO loose with numbers I love seeing the mature TV sales execs calling "us" out.   It will hopefully make Internet/Digital ad sales communciation more reliable by presenting numbers in the future that can not be so easily and publicly disputed.

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