This week, hundreds of advertisers came to New York to enjoy the thrill ride that is the broadcast network upfront season, featuring presentations of new fall shows — and in the process, promising to spend more than $9 billion on TV ads.
Programming themes: More reboots ("Murphy Brown"); shows with a deep emotional connection a la "This is Us ("A Million Little Things"); more actors of color, and more shows made by women.
Is TV money shifting to digital? Yes and no. Money that sloshes around in the year-round ad market is called scatter. Some of that money is now going to digital players such as Hulu so that advertisers can secure premium online shows, said two ad agency sources, who asked not to be named so that they could discuss financial matters. But even so, there's the same money in the marketplace as last year, the sources said.
The main concern: There are fewer viewers watching on traditional TV. But networks are arguing there's more viewing happening across the board.
The problem, according to TV companies, is that TV measurement needs to change. Time Warner-owned Turner took aim at measurement firm Nielsen.
"We are in a new era of media, and it's time to retire the Nielsen television metric," Turner President David Levy said at his company's upfront. "While it undoubtedly served its purpose, it no longer fully captures how to successfully measure an audience in today's landscape."
What's new this year: Fox and NBC said they will sell less commercials to keep viewers watching. Networks are trying to get credit for things such as co-viewing and out-of-home viewing of their shows to aggregate the uncounted audiences.
Quote of the week: "Les sends his regards," said Kelly Kahl, president of entertainment at CBS, of his boss, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, who is in the midst of a face-off with the company's controlling shareholder. "But the number of questions he couldn't answer outnumber the ones he could, so he thought it was a good idea to sit this one out."
Buzzword of the week: OTT. David Cohen, president at media buyer Magna, said he heard the phrase (shorthand for internet-delivered TV) numerous times: "If this was a drinking game, I'd be horizontal by Friday."
What the advertisers say: Chris Geraci, OMG's president of media investment, said that network TV is consistently overshadowed by the digital migration but noted that "network TV remains the engine room of the entertainment industry."
Magna's Cohen added: "The increasing cost for fewer consumers is something that, as time goes on, the math equation is harder to understand. It's the genesis of why everyone is looking to aggregate [audiences]."
When it comes to exploiting successful shows down the line, Hollywood's independent production companies are now in a weak position. Deadline's Nellie Andreeva writes: "It took a couple of years, but we arrived to a point this year where broadcast networks own or co-own every new scripted series on their schedule that is not a revival."