This year’s upfronts—the two weeks in May when the TV business figures out how much it can soak advertisers for—may provide a valuable lesson in humility for the media giants.
The hallmark this time around, according to one agency head we talked to, will be that TV executives will be aggressively educated in the need to be flexible.
Network ratings are shaky and the pool of capital advertisers have to spend has shrunk, maybe for the forseeable future. So, both sides are squeezed. The difference: the ad guys have the money.
“Everybody is looking for relief,” the agency boss told us. “But the networks historically haven’t been flexible.” Now, with predictions for an upfront so dire than commitments may be down 20%, the agencies are likely to put down more money if the networks give them an out for later in the year.
Typically, advertisers can’t get any fourth quarter money back (the season starts in September) but if they can get between 25% and 50% back if they decide to pull out later, it can get them to step up.
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