Upfront TV Ad Prognosis? Slow-Moving, On A Questionable Front

Weakness in the upfront marketplace appears a foregone conclusion for legacy and digital-first platforms. So what happens after that?

A strong scatter market? In the old days, that would have been the result. But nowadays? There are a lot more complications in play.

Looking on a granular level, TV ad sellers are attempting to boost upfront revenue by adding in high-priced sports TV content -- as well as the usual price additions to one’s traditional cost per thousand viewer (CPMs) prices.

Do you want the ease of programmatic media buying, specific business outcome results, other first-party data/clean room extras? That will cost you.

Looking more broadly, there is still a major question about the health of the market -- at least for premium video.



After experiencing an extended period of steady growth -- with the belief of a recession slowly disappearing in the background -- we still could be facing an uncertain economy in the near term.

All this comes at a time, legacy TV network-based companies are still struggling to find consistent profitability. 

The slow-moving marketplace was expected to some extent. This was accelerated by declines in overall legacy TV gross rating points -- and further complicated by streaming platforms' CPMs dropping like a stone due to the inclusion of Amazon Prime Video adding an ad-supported option that tossed big ad inventory supplies into the marketplace.

A smaller contribution of new streaming ad inventory will come from Disney+ and Netflix adding in streaming advertising inventory to the overall marketplace.

Still, some analysts expect scatter to play a major role in the 2024-25 TV season that traditionally starts in the third week in September.

Media Culture, a performance marketing agency, estimates the linear TV advertising scatter market for next season will barely change -- estimated to be $20.68 million versus $20.48 billion for the 2023-24 TV season. 

At the same time, streaming scatter revenue will decline -- to $10.14 billion from $10.64 billion.

The big winner? Streaming inventory sold in the upfront. It is poised for growth to $18.61 billion, rising dramatically from $13.55 billion.

The bottom line is that a complicated premium TV-video market shows at least one expected data point that makes sense.

In line with viewing share that continues to rise, brands will boost their upfront streaming advertising coffers right now.

1 comment about "Upfront TV Ad Prognosis? Slow-Moving, On A Questionable Front".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 2, 2024 at 11:31 a.m.

    Wayne, national TV ad spend for the broadcast TV networks, cable channels and national syndicators totals about $40-42 billion. If prime time upfront on the broadcast TV networks and cable channels works out to about $18 billion, that's not the only upfront buying that goes on for linear TV. At least $10 bilion will be spent for early AM, daytime, news and late night TV GRPs from the broadcast TV nets and cable as well as more for national Syndication--"Wheel Of Fortune" , "Jeopardy", etc. So the total upfront, across all sellers and dayparts for linear TV is more like $30 billion. How doe these folks come up with a linear TV "scatter" spend of $20 billion? Same question for streaming. Most estimates have streaming ad spend at $24 billion or thereabouts--a few a bit lower,   a few a bit higher. Yet we are told that national TV ad spend for streaming will be $18 billion upfront and $10 billion for scatter. That doesn't compute as there are other kinds of advertisers using streaming   besides traditional national TV buyers.

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