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Insider Upfront

  • Ad Age, Friday, June 30, 2006 12:01 PM
"The upfront is the ultimate game show, and reporting on it is a little bit like being a contestant," writes Claire Atkinson in Ad Age. "At the start, all the participants--broadcast networks and media agencies alike--try to decide if it's a billion dollars in the suitcase or just $1, and then as budgets get registered, a picture begins to emerge and cost-per-thousand rates rise to the surface." At that point, half of the audience yells "higher!" and the other half "lower!" and then "some kind of consensus emerges." Atkinson observes that with multiple sources, "it's possible to get pretty close to an accurate picture of how the upfront is playing out" until one reaches the end and the market has to be called up or down. At that point, the only people who know are at the networks. "Some years when the market is buoyant, the press is briefed by the president of sales, and we even get a press release with a number," she says. "Other years--this one in particular--barely anyone comes to the phone, and a final number is floated by 'insiders.'"



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