TV Upfront Waits On One Day, Thursday

Forget about DVR-included viewing. The network advertising upfront could get more complicated thanks to NBC decision to change things around on Thursday night.

NBC, the first network to present programming to advertisers last week, proudly put the new Aaron Sorkin drama, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," on Thursday at 9 p.m. But even before the ink was dry on the schedule, network executives said they were willing to change it around--depending on other networks' moves.

Thursday was the night that used to belong to NBC. But instead of looking to make a comeback on that night, NBC looks to get out of the way, with ABC scheduling its big "Grey's Anatomy" against CBS's big "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."

All this is giving advertisers some pause. If NBC doesn't know where its shows are, advertising executives say a good idea might be to wait until NBC does know.



While many advertisers just buy GRPs in a commodity-like way--without looking too closely as the shows--network schedules are still important. Media agencies need to look at ratings and share estimates.

For NBC, this is not just one small programming move. NBC said "Studio 60" was a highly sought-after new show. NBC would like to protect it--rather than just letting it play to almost certain doom. The odds are that the network moves it to Monday at 9 p.m.--which means NBC's "Heroes" would need to find another spot.

Of course, for the movie companies, Thursday is all-important. They would be the most prone to extra hesitation.

To rid the world of uncertainty, NBC in an unprecedented move, might make a major programming switch only days after its upfront program presentation.

Waiting on NBC has to be considered another big "negotiating-in-the-press" move by advertisers--one where marketers are looking at ways to slow down the upfront negotiating process. Networks and advertisers are already at a standstill over the DVR viewing issues. Marketers also say potential digital offerings give them pause as well.

The claim that they need NBC to make a programming decision, seems to add another ball in their court.

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