How The Pandemic Changes The TV Upfront

Prepare for the $20 billion upfront TV advertising market to be delayed. Then prepare for more short-term decisions to be made in media buying for traditional TV and new digital TV platforms.

That’s the plan some TV advertising executives are mulling. Here are some reasons:

First, TV network production has been virtually shut down, and that includes existing as well as new TV series. For years, new TV shows have been a big promotional tool of TV networks to stir TV marketers into buying a new season’s worth of ad time.

All this has already impacted TV networks' upfront presentations for the coming season, virtually all of which have been cancelled.

Second, many TV marketers are looking at what they can do in the near-term, with plans for just two months, according to Ad Age. This includes re-negotiating some deals made with TV networks, especially on major TV franchises, such as the recently cancelled March Madness event -- the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.



Projections are the TV upfront advertising market -- which takes place June through August, where big brand marketers typically commit to spend around 75% of their yearly TV budget -- could be shifted until the first quarter 2021.

That would mean the fourth-quarter 2020 would consist of “scatter” deals, where advertisers might make short-length TV deals for just a 12-week period. 

Upfront TV market has been used as a futures market — that is, securing inventory to be aired months ahead at a more favorable price. The sales strategy push here comes as premium TV-rated, wide-reach shows are increasingly more valuable against other media -- even with longtime viewing erosion.

Slow upfront market changes have been fueled by new digital media ad spending, where buying occurs on a near-term or nonstop basis, and where marketers can get immediate business outcome data from their campaigns.

For years, TV big brand marketers and their media agencies have wrestled with the idea of revamping -- or totally ending the upfront market.

Tremendous current economic and media disruption could make that happen.

Next story loading loading..