Last Thursday marked the end of a busy, flashy and (hopefully) lucrative Upfront week.
As usual, the U.S. broadcast TV networks’ flaunted some their biggest stars, threw big parties (Fox’s, for example, was catered by MasterChef judges Joe Bastianich, Graham Elliot and Gordon Ramsay) and made big promises for their upcoming shows in an effort to attract tens of billions of dollars in advertising revenue for the next season.
And you can’t blame them for trying. According to Nielsen Media Research, TV ad revenue in the U.S. came to $71.8 billion in 2011 (that’s up five percent from 2010).
Of course this figure includes all revenues: Upfronts, scatter, spot, regional and local.
If one considers just the Upfronts, that’s a $9 billion market.
But that’s still a lot of money – and reason enough to go all out wining and dining advertisers at the Upfronts.
Before the Upfronts, we checked in with Jack Myers, media economist and publisher of the Jack Myers Media Business Report, for his predictions. He told us he expected little change – plus or minus two percent in volume – for the 2012 Upfronts.
While the negotiations are currently underway, and it’ll be about a month until we see any Upfront figures, Myers said he’d err on the side of a plus-two, rather than minus-two change.
Pre-Upfronts, Myers told us he expected the broadcast networks to up their games as a result of this year’s “Newfronts” (from companies like YouTube and AOL) and elaborate cable upfronts.
And up them they did.
“While there was a lot of mention of Digital, the networks — and especially CBS — put their focus on ‘first screen first’ [stressing the importance of big-event TV], and really showed off the quality of their content.”
While Myers described the broadcast nets’ new series as “impossible to handicap” he predicts that their substantial investments in new series will bring them at least some glory.
“They’ve spent $3 billion in program development this year, and the broadcast networks remain the engine that leads the video train,” he said.
Myers says he still expects CPM growth overall to be in the mid-single digits for the broadcast networks.
Aside from the stars, the parties, and the new series clips, one product garnering special attention at this year’s upfront Upfronts was satellite distributor Dish Network’s new digital video recorder known as “Auto Hop.” The DVR automatically skips advertisements on most primetime network series – no fast-forwarding required. Unsurprisingly, it’s much maligned by the TV industry, especially the broadcast network heads, who’ve spoken out against it.
“If it’s not a breach of contractual obligations, its certainly a breach of moral, ethical and financial obligations,” Myers said. “I think it’s a dangerous precedent that ultimately won’t go through.”
When it comes to his overall thoughts on the Upfronts, Myers said the tone – while serious and focused – seemed to be a bit more celebratory than the last few famously tame years.
And does he have a personal favorite for the new season? “I don’t even venture to guess,” Myers said. “There’s so much good quality and expensive content, who knows what fickle consumer will embrace.”