By Dom Serafini
There are many reasons to do away with the Upfronts, a U.S. broadcast tradition going back to the 1960s. The first reason is the fact that the Upfronts have evolved from an event about schedules and programming into one celebrating the power of platforms and tech.
Another reason given by ad sales teams is that, given all the changes in the market, the hype associated with the Upfronts only risks bringing attention to the shift and the necessity for TV networks to convince advertisers that their channels can still deliver.
Yet another reason heard through the grapevine is that, while things were not easy in the past, they were so much simpler than today. The slump in ad sales (which were reportedly down seven percent since last year) necessitates a new playbook. Using the Upfront model simply underscores, for many, the fact that a company has not moved into 2023.
All of these could be summarized by the expression: “Time to change a failed strategy.”
That’s all good and dandy, but I’d like to take a cue from a recent Wall Street Journal headline and repeat: “It’s time to double down on a failed strategy.”
While the Journal‘s article focused on maintaining the traditional 60/40 investment portfolio, the take for keeping the Upfronts upright is that in a time of uncertainty, high volatility, and nervousness all around, the best way for businesses is to show a sense of stability, normalcy, and continuity. This is not the time to experiment with so-called “innovative” practices.
Plus, by skipping the Upfronts, companies could indicate that they might be in trouble and that is not the best way to project confidence in their own futures. The results could be even more dramatic than the reasons to do away with the Upfronts. Usually, if buyers sense a problem, they will lower their offerings.