Traditional TV's Upfront Continues Winning Streak

Media analysts are still shaking their heads: How could the upfront marketplace continue to climb?  

Analysts now say upfront revenue volume for the four major broadcast networks could grow 3% to 4% to around $9.2 billion -- all this after a 4% gain a year ago.

Last year was viewed, more or less, as a glitch. Digital media problems, surrounding digital video fraud, viewability, accountability and other issues, would be quickly resolved by the selling season. It wasn’t. Much iffy news still plagues digital video.

Yet digital media continues to grow. According to a few estimates, it is higher than TV -- now pulling $71.6 billion per year to TV’s $71.2 billion, according to eMarketer.

But things get murkier. For example, how upfront revenue went to premium video deals TV networks make. Premium video being defined as content derived from the big traditional TV-based media companies that produce programs for broadcast, cable, syndication and local TV.



TV upfront networks didn’t go into many specifics when it came to this segment. But looking into cursory digital revenue performance, the networks witnessed soaring results for this upfront. NBC was up 42% in digital ad revenue; Fox was 40% higher, and ABC earned 20% more.

One estimate is that around $2.4 billion per year comes from Hulu alone, according to J.P. Morgan’s Alexia Quadrani. But there are other platforms, as well. Overall, around $9 billion is spent on digital video (including mobile), according to eMarketer. 

For any TV network, these numbers might amount to maybe 3%, 5% or 10% of their overall national TV ad dollars. A nice scenario overall, but perhaps not all that telling directionally, since traditional linear TV advertising is still the ad beast.

From all this positive news -- traditional linear and digital media gains --- we are left with post-upfront vagaries.

We can have adjustments to the total upfront take; specific quarterly options that can bring revenue down (or up). There could be adjustments in the actual ordering of upfront schedules in late August/early September, as well as fluid scatter-market buying.

So... keep guessing.

1 comment about "Traditional TV's Upfront Continues Winning Streak".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 17, 2017 at 1:26 p.m.

    We will be releasing our own estimates shortly, Wayne, and as will be evident if one tracks what has been happening over the past ten or so upfronts, while there are gains in most years as well as overall, cable is leading the way, not broadcast. In fact, since the 2008-09 upfront, cable ad revenues are up about 40% but the broadcast nets have virtually stood still over that extended period. More soon.

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