Mindshare/Ford Motor Media comment on WGA strike
Kevin Brown, Ford Motor Media, Senior Partner & Managing Director (part of Mindshare’s TeamDetroit) and Ford Motor Media Broadcast Director Cindy Stacy, commented on the WGA Strike and what it may mean. Brown noted that since most broadcast buys purchased through upfronts are guaranteed on audience that is not a risk and will be made good in the normal way. However, the longer the strike lasts, coupled with new C3 ratings fall-off, the more pressure will be put on existing GRPs inventory. "So we might experience a longer term to fulfill makegoods, with acceptable inventory on our terms. Depends on how sharp a fall-off might occur to viewing if original content is suspended – certainly will be some." Commercial ratings (C3), he mentioned, on the other hand, so far seems to be calibrating about where the experts thought it would. "So, the networks took much of that into account in upfront plans for ADU weight. But, C-3 is still a great unknown–more so than even the strike." Since the nets have sufficient content "in the can" to run new episodes up into January-early Q1, their risk is not great now … but grows as they near production deadlines for replacement series, or finalizing original series runs into February sweeps. "And, of course," Brown said, "the longer it goes starts to impact the new season development schedule that is typically timed around March. The general feeling is optimistic that the strike will be resolved before that critical timing barrier is crossed." For now, though, he said it’s probably not a good idea to buy more late-night or talk show or soaps.
We can also expect some impact on content searches online – or online media buys that center on TV content streamed. Cindy Stacy noted one of the biggest risks to the writers outside of money from alternative viewing sources is loss of momentum/buzz on series programming. A good example of that is "Samantha Who." Borderline series–or those not on the air enough to hit their stride–may be dropped. "Although the mood on both sides has been classified as bitter, vendors I spoke with do not expect a strike the length of 1988. The hope is settlement will be reached before the December Holiday. Vendors have enough scripted material to last through January. (In some cases, beyond) Unscripted material (reality, news magazines, movies and repeats) is not impacted and will play a major role in scheduling. As of this morning, ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS have not altered their telecast plans. With some of the most successful shows under the reality genre, (Deal, Dancing, Amazing Race, Survivor, Bachelor, 60 Minutes, Extreme Home, American Idol, etc) networks are fairly confident ratings fall off could be minimal." She noted that FMC’s network contract guarantees are on C3 performance. "The uncertainty and instability of this new metric will be influencing contracts and marketplace in a bigger way than the strike."