2010 Upfronts

It appears after the conclusion of the 2010-2011 broadcast upfront market this month, the broadcast industry has managed to revive itself and advertisers appear more confident in locking in their budgets early. The 5 major networks reportedly charged more than last year for their ad time and sold more of it.

According to estimates, roughly $8.7 billion (yes billion) dollars was committed by advertisers to the five major networks. This, when compared to the dismal upfront last year when commitments were estimated to be just shy of $8 billion, gives the impression things are slowly turning around.

The upfront, an interesting tradition when broadcasters pull out all the stops serving up celebrities and cocktails along with their new programs and fall schedules to the buying community, is really a measure of the health of TV and the willingness of advertisers to spend. Since the amount committed is not necessarily the end result (cancellations, program changes etc have an effect on the total), the upfront indicates advertisers interest in TV and their willingness to commitment their money early.

In 2009, the upfront stalled, with commitments made well into August as advertisers were unwilling to part with their money and insisted on rate discounts before even entering negotiations. With the economy still uncertain and the increasing array of choices advertisers now have competing for their marketing dollars; predictions were moderate for the 2010 upfront. But, according to the network executives, the return of automotive, retail and financial dollars indicates advertisers are somewhat more confident in spending and are acknowledging TV is still a major part of their media mix.

While this year’s totals were up from 2009 and deals done at a much faster pace, there still was not enough money in the upfront market to reach the levels of 2008 or 2007 when levels were above $9 billion in commitments, impressive numbers for sure.


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