The TV Ad Upfronts: Let The Unaudited Boasting Begin!

Categories: 1-Featured,TV Advertising

Written By

June 5th, 2013

If you follow the TV trade press, you'll know that the news of ad deals for the 2013-14 broadcast season has begun to appear, "The CW Wraps Upfront Sales"

A few things to keep in mind as you read those advertising upfront reports:

* I'd love to claim credit for "unaudited boasting", but I cribbed it from Ad Age's Michael Learmonth.

 
  • Tom

    “That broadcast can maintain that gap over cable continues to surprise me.”

    I don’t understand. Media buyers are interested in pitching to the largest possible audience. The four major broadcast networks clearly attract much larger audiences than cable. All you need is an set of rabbit ears to tune in. No cable bills to pay. So, why wouldn’t media buyers choose to pay more to advertise on the broadcast networks?

  • Holly

    That broadcast can maintain that gap over cable continues to surprise me.

    If I recall correctly, something I read a while back attributed part of this to the fact that broadcast gets a wider range of viewers. Buying ad time across several shows on NBC gets you more unique viewers than buying ad time on across several shows on AMC.

  • Doug

    @Holly – I believe that’s also why there was little panic at CNN despite the ratings woes of the past several years – it gets more unique viewers than either MSNBC or Fox.

  • Carl LaFong

    ‘When the volume of the product you’re selling (adults 18-49 viewers) declines from year to year, you need price increases as big as your viewership declines just to keep revenue stable!”

    Not if you add more commercials. Ask the Viacom-owned cable networks. Their ratings keep going down, so to increase revenue their shows are now jam packed with ads. Some of their 60 minute shows are almost 70 minutes long now.

    Or a network could just shorten the length of the actual program(one hour shows run about 42 minutes these days plus ads) and keep the total run time the same by including more ads.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “If I recall correctly, something I read a while back attributed part of this to the fact that broadcast gets a wider range of viewers. Buying ad time across several shows on NBC gets you more unique viewers than buying ad time on across several shows on AMC.”

    I’ve been told something vaguely similar. That cable viewers are typically heavy TV viewers, period, and so are cheaper to reach. But to reach folks that aren’t heavy TV viewers you’ve got to use broadcast.

    I’ve never seen any numbers to back that up, but it at least *sounds* logical.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “I don’t understand. Media buyers are interested in pitching to the largest possible audience. The four major broadcast networks clearly attract much larger audiences than cable. All you need is an set of rabbit ears to tune in. No cable bills to pay. So, why wouldn’t media buyers choose to pay more to advertise on the broadcast networks?”

    That assumes there is oversized value in broadcast because you can reach more people in one place.

    Why should that oversized value exist when presumably some cleverly spread out ads on cable could reach just as many for far less money?

    And on a network by network basis the big broadcasters reach more viewers than even the biggest cable networks, but overall broadcast’s share of the primetime audience is only about 30-35% now. Cable’s at 65-70%.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “@Holly – I believe that’s also why there was little panic at CNN despite the ratings woes of the past several years – it gets more unique viewers than either MSNBC or Fox.”

    You’ve been listening to way too much CNN PR.

    1. There is panic at CNN over their ratings.
    2. Cable network revenue is so buttressed by their subscriber fees from the cable and satco’s that advertising, while very important, is a secondary source of revenue, so while CNN’s ratings have hurt their ad revenue, their sub fees still mean that their total revenue hasn’t taken nearly as much of a hit.

  • Holly

    @Bill Gorman,

    Of course, inertia plays a hand in it too, so it’s not all logical.

  • Kit

    Would ad rates be adjusted, even as viewership at broadcasts declines each year? For example, let’s say that Two and A Half Men is this year’s and next year’s number one show and CBS charges 5 dollars for 30 second ad for their show which averages a 5.0, but then next year ratings decline to an average of a 3.0. However, the rest of the broadcast spectrum also saw a similar decline, with Two and Half Men still on top. So, could CBS theoretically still charge the prices they are using now, since in relation to the rest of TV, 2.5 Men is still the highest rated show by a considerable margin?

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “Would ad rates be adjusted, even as viewership at broadcasts declines each year? For example, let’s say that Two and A Half Men is this year’s and next year’s number one show and CBS charges 5 dollars for 30 second ad for their show which averages a 5.0, but then next year ratings decline to an average of a 3.0. However, the rest of the broadcast spectrum also saw a similar decline, with Two and Half Men still on top. So, could CBS theoretically still charge the prices they are using now, since in relation to the rest of TV, 2.5 Men is still the highest rated show by a considerable margin?”

    Ad rates are set per ratings point, not “per show”.

    The broadcast networks have always strived, and mostly succeeded, in raising their per ratings point rates each season to cover their ratings declines. Some seasons their per ratings point cost increases are more than the ratings declines, some seasons they’re less.

  • Mike

    Can someone tell me what these upfront sales include…

    Do they include sales to international markets?

    So they include the ad dollars per 30 second ad?

    What else??

  • Joshua Perry

    ?Wait the CW generates 410M+ per year in ad revenue

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