It is time for cable networks to cut cable operators into their online video endeavors? Broadcast networks have been sharing the online spoils with their TV affiliates when it comes to streaming full-length TV shows. But for the most part, few cable networks have constructed similar deals with their cable system operator partners.
Your weather forecast for TV's upfront will have clouds rolling in this week, with seasonable temperatures. Some cable networks may offer up afternoon thundershowers. Media executives say we should not only brace for a couple of deals drifting in by the weekend, but that a sprinkle of cable networks deals will occur at the same time as the broadcast networks. (Already Hallmark has made its upfront deal with big media agency Starcom USA.)
Who wants to get away from working on a computer? Everyone -- that's who. Even college kids. For many Americans the computer is still about work -- mostly. Leisurely times still come mostly from that bigger box in the living room.
If you believe product placements are time-consuming, labor-intensive, and possibly even deceptive, live commercials could be just the imperfect media ticket you are looking for. Live commercials, presented by network late-night hosts, are in vogue again. Straight-ahead live commercial reads-to-camera have touted ice cream bars, fast-food sandwiches, men's pants, and toilet paper.
In a recent study released by the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, viewers were found to believe that cable TV runs fewer commercials than broadcast TV. And, mind you, not by a little bit, but by a wide-margin. Some 33% viewers believe cable runs fewer spots, versus 12% who believe broadcast TV has fewer messages. Perception is everything. But there is virtually no argument among cable sales executives that their commercials loads are among the highest for all TV platforms. Study after study has shown this.
Why do independent programmers only contribute 18% to prime-time lineups now, versus 50% in 1989? That's a puzzle to three U.S. Senators, who want the Government Accountability Office to look into it. Well, you know the answer -- media consolidation. My question is: Does it matter?
For some time now the cable industry has been running the gauntlet of media-buying executives and their demands for a cable-wide addressable advertising system. Now the threat is getting client-specific: A major client from one of TV's biggest advertising categories threatens that more-targetable media will get its media dollars if the cable industry doesn't get its act together
Broadcast erosion this year is more like chunks of land falling into the sea. To be upfront about the upfront, it looks like tough sailing for sure, especially in light of a somewhat historic ratings drop in prime-time viewership -- down 15%. TV selling executives can only hope an actors' strike won't throw the networks in the soup.
Just when you thought the upfronts were going to be head-scratching or yawning affairs, Fox offers up a new, dramatic equation for advertisers: fewer commercials and more television. How can you beat that?
Think about Jimmy Fallon, late night DVR playback, and how Internet streaming is affecting CW's "Gossip Girl." Put all these factors in one big mixing bowl and you have viewer actions and programming mush network executives can't recognize -- nor figure out how to handle.