TV Song-And-Dance Upfronts Are A No-Go, But Upfront Markets Dance On

TV's advertising economics are not that hard to figure out -- even in these striking, trying times.

You don't have development. You don't have pilots. You don't have anything to show to advertisers, at a pricey upfront presentation. So you don't have the gaudy affair -- at least for this year.

NBC says it's nearing a decision to cut its annual "dog and pony" show, as NBC Universal chief executive Jeff Zucker calls it. But Zucker won't cancel the actual upfront advertising marketplace itself. That would be stupid.

NBC, as well as the other networks, still need the cash, especially the bulk that the upfront brings. Better to have 70% of all advertisers' yearly TV spending in your pocket now instead of  later -- even if it is for "Celebrity Biggest Loser" and "Celebrity American Gladiators," and USA Network reruns of "Psych," "Monk" and "Burn This."

Network chiefs are optimistic -- even iooking at a weakening advertising market and an almost definite U.S. recession.

All network executives want to get rid of their million-dollar mid-May extravaganzas for advertisers. But stop the upfront market itself? No way. That's suicidal. Grabbing all those media buys early helps them to better plan inventory for the year -- as well as keeping scatter prices higher than upfront prices -- usually.  

This is all fine with media agency executives. They would love to abandon the week-long event of end-to- end parties. What's stopping them? Clients, that's who. They come to New York City and want to press the flesh with the famous and the not-so famous, sometimes just to see what their dollars are actually buying.

Concerning the actual market itself -- that's another story. Where can advertisers turn? Not to the Internet right now.  It's not ready. Some money may go to cable, as well as syndication, or even local TV.

But the bulk of TV advertising points will still remain on network TV. "American Idol," the NFL, "American Gladiators" and "Supernanny" still brings in the ratings points -- even if it's at a collective lower level.

No upfront parties? I guess we can do without it seeing Simon Cowell, Donald Trump, or muscular men and women in spandex dipping shrimp. In mid-May -- in the midst of the big recession -- we'll all be at home counting what's left of our 401Ks



Next story loading loading..