TV Nets On Upfront Time, Marketers In The Crosshairs

TV networks continue to stoke issues in what they say is Nielsen's failure — a year’s worth of TV viewership under-delivery.

Now, Nielsen is being asked to submit to an audit from MRC’s Ernst & Young regarding its measurement processes -- especially as it regards maintenance, that's in addition to other longtime issues TV networks gripe about.

Trouble is, it’s mid-April -- with just weeks to go before the upfront advertising market begins.

It’s a marketplace that’s expected to see TV networks looking for massive double-digit cost per thousand (CPM) viewer pricing increases -- this after single-digit pricing gains for the upfront market concluded last fall for the current TV season.

Suffice to say, all this will be tools for networks to use as negotiating leverage against  longtime branded legacy TV marketers in a marketplace that has more questions than answers.

Decades of viewership erosion already had TV marketers questioning what and where to turn to supplement added reach of potential consumers.



We have barely heard a peep from TV marketers concerning the current Nielsen situation. Not that they aren’t worried about lower TV network viewership. Their bigger concern is what happens next -- with connected TV, digital media and other platforms.

When it comes to paying the third-party measurement costs, TV networks carry a much bigger load than media agencies. That is a big reason TV networks made concerted efforts, via the VAB, the TV ad trade group, to get Nielsen to respond more aggressively.

For its part, media agency executives have said viewing and other estimates from TV networks for their upfront deals have gotten out of control. TV networks have a case to be made — when and if their undelivered claims are proven.

Think about upcoming future media agency upfront meetings -- virtually or in person. How much discussion over vagaries of estimates will occur in those meetings, which are then finalized as upfront GRP guarantees -- perhaps impression guarantees?

One might expect getting closer to “normal” post-pandemic times, things would be looking up. Big time advertising sales decisions need to be made soon -- all with less visibility than marketplace executives have had in years. That can’t be good.

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