Broadcast and cable networks are FINALLY wrapping up their Upfront deals, although a surprisingly low percentage of fourth quarter Upfront commitments have been firmed up even as the fourth quarter network scatter market begins to generate some heat. A consistent pattern is emerging: advertisers will avoid making budget commitments until absolutely necessary; they will extend options periods as long as possible to avoid locking in their spending; and they will hold off on scatter buys until as close to air dates as they possibly can. This promises to put increased pressure on agency planners and buyers and to drive network sales, financial planning and traffic departments crazy. And efforts to accurately assess market conditions using historic patterns will be challenging at best. It's in this context that Jack Myers Media Business Report has taken a look back at historic patterns in hopes of gaining insights into 2009/2010 network TV Upfront spending. Looking back at Upfront spending patterns in the recession years of 1991 and 2001 uncovers some surprising and hopeful evidence that this year's Upfront declines are consistent with these past two recession-impacted Upfronts and that future prospects are brighter than many analysts anticipate.
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