In May, ad professionals flocked to NYC for the unveiling of the 2016-17 broadcast line-up. The industry eagerly awaits the clips for fall broadcast premieres and starts placing bets on which programs will be hot and which will flop. For TV fans, there’s nothing like this behind-the-scenes look at new content. At a time when innovation and technology reign supreme, there’s comfort in this long-standing tradition.
This sense of nostalgia surrounding television and the anticipation for upcoming programs is what sets TV apart from other media. It’s the quality of the content and the connection with the programs that will keep viewers coming back.
“TV is not about the 1’s and 0’s,” said Linda Yaccarino, Chairman of Advertising Sales and Client Partnerships at NBC. Geri Wang, President, ABC Sales agrees, “Today is all about connection…connection to our shows, our viewers, and our brands.” So why the sudden focus on connection? Connection yields engagement, and engagement leads to better return for clients.
As recently as two years ago, national advertisers were shifting a large share of their marketing budgets into digital media options to take advantage of the platform’s targeting capabilities and limited waste. After declines in product sales, some advertisers and agencies are returning to TV, the one platform that offers large scale, mass reach. “Nothing compares to the power, impact, reach and value of broadcast TV,” proclaimed CBS President Leslie Moonves.
ABC presented results from an Accenture study showing that TV drives business. The three-year study focused on twenty national brands across six categories and found that TV actually drives digital ROI and delivers unmatched long-term impact, awareness, and brand equity. This study has helped the broadcast advertising resurgence. Marketers are shifting budget back into broadcast and using digital as a complement to the TV buys rather than to replace them.
FOX President Toby Byrne addressed the crowd at the Beacon Theater, stating, “Impressions for sub-prime video can’t match the reach of premium television.” This sentiment was echoed by broadcasters throughout the week. Byrne continued, “Non-premium video can’t match TV’s scale and ad receptivity.” The solution is not to do away with digital, but to utilize it as a complement to TV rather than a supplement. “Our greatest opportunity is to capitalize on the total audience consumption of our sports and entertainment programming across linear, VOD and online video,” said Byrne.
Networks are not only taking a unified approach to how they sell inventory, but on how they package their properties together. This was most evident at the NBCUniversal presentation, which kicked off the week Monday morning with a presentation focused not only on the NBC broadcast property but on the full suite of cable networks and Univision as well. There was just one upfront because, as Yaccarino stated, “This is how we sell.” Unifying the sales teams to bring the full breadth of a company’s assets together under one umbrella will offer advertisers the best opportunity to reach consumers.
In addition to content and cross-network/platform collaboration, the networks were eager to promote their live, original content. From the 2016 Summer Olympics to the 2016 Women’s World Cup along with the live productions of musicals, sports, and award shows – no other medium offers the opportunity to reach large audiences live.
Looking ahead to the 2016-17 media landscape, broadcast partners are pushing for C7 guarantees (commercial ratings viewed live + 7 days of VOD/DVR), as compared to the current C3 standard. They are also looking to guarantee deals by utilizing not only on-network audience delivery units (ADUs), but also through impressions on their watch apps and full episode players (FEPs). The networks are adamant that the audience is there, but the way they are consuming content is more fragmented and guarantees need to be reflective of cross-channel usage.
Given the strength of this year’s scatter market, there is a lot of momentum going into the upfront. Initial reports have broadcasters coming out pricing inventory at mid-teen increases over the previous year’s upfront. Expect a large portion of the available inventory to be sold upfront, which will lead to even higher increases in the 2016-17 scatter market.