The New Reality TV: Ad Dollars May Plummet 20%

 Ad Age Digital  DigitalNext  MediaWorks ( — Early predictions for this year’s TV-upfront market are grim. The betting on Wall Street is that the broadcast networks will see a 10% to 20% decline from the about $9.23 billion in commitments from marketers secured last year, which could mean the networks will be lucky to notch a take between $7.4 billion and $8.2 billion.

That would be quite a cut — and would mark the first serious decline in upfront dollars since the economic downturn of 2001. That year, the broadcast networks secured around $6.7 billion in upfront commitments, according to Advertising Age — noticeably down from estimates for 2000 that range from $7.8 billion to $8.3 billion.

Commitment volumes represent only an intention to buy, not cash in the coffers, but they are taken as directional indicators about the health of each network as well as broadcast and cable as individual media. Last year, cable increased its take 10% and 15% to book $7.5 billion, while syndication posted about a 4.5% increase to $2.4 billion.

Add to this an abysmal automotive category (could car makers under threat of bankruptcy have to pay for their upfront buys in cash?), as well as expected reductions from retail, pharmaceuticals and financial services, and it’s clear that seeing the upfront’s future this year is anything but easy.

Read the whole story and the chart comparing networks>

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