Upfront: Gastronomically, Speaking.

Want to reveal the mysteries of the upfront? Follow the relaxation routines, general relative telephone habits, and favorite main courses, appetizers, and desserts of key players.

In other words--follow the crumbs.

You're probably asking yourself, how do we journalists cover the upfront with such accuracy and precision? Do we have key sources of information? Do we have incredible intellect?

Yes, we have all those resources. But that's just the basics. The real measure is determining intestinal fortitude--literally: Ask any media buyer--or seller--what they had to eat for dinner the night before.

"I've had home-cooked meals all this week--no cold pizza," one veteran media buying executive told me recently.

Translation: The market is moving so slowly that an executive actually has the time to dine with his wife. No late nights--or even worse, overnight upfront sessions.



There are other key observations in guessing upfront entropy: Suddenly one day during the upfront selling season, you can't get anyone on the phone. Not even executives' assistants.

Translation: The market is moving so fast that media executives are fielding calls from their clients and network reps faster than you can say live-plus-seven-day DVR rating. Can they take a call from a journalist? Please. The only person lower on their list of calls is the office caterer. Check that. The office caterer is now at the top of the list.

Here's another clue. If you indeed get someone on the phone, and he can talk about his golf game, skiing, or sailing adventure for at least two minutes, that means the market is moving so slowly, chit-chatting and exchanging intel with a journalist is all that's left to do. All his budgets are set; his estimates are ready to go; and his various buying scenarios are planned and ready to move.

From all of this media business, journalists can tell you where the upfront market is--to the penny. And never be wrong.

Now back to your duck confit.

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