Spengler on the upfront


Tim Spengler Chief Activation Officer, Initiative North America, spoke to TVBR about the television upfront Friday, June 29.  In this excerpt from our feature article about Spengler in August's SmartMedia Magazine, he talks about this year's negotiations.

How would you describe this years' upfront market compared to years past or even just last year's?

"I think it was more complicated and more dynamic.  There were a lot of new issues to tackle and there was a little bit more shrink in the supply side of the market.  The currency that we were using to pay for the time changed, for the first time ever." [using commercial minute ratings and Live +3]
How did that transition go so smoothly? 

"That's a good question.  I think everybody on the TV side of the business realized that the medium needs to evolve.  It needs to evolve as people view television differently and also as other media platforms like the Internet are valuing, are bringing other metrics to the table.  So I think both of those things were big influences on the industry coming together-buyers, sellers and clients-with a reasonably good consensus." 

How do the ever-decreasing ratings in television affect inventory and pricing each upfront, as fragmentation and the move to digital keeps increasing? What are the economics there, and specifically, in this upfront?

"The television business is changing and it is not as easy to make a buck as it used to be.  Certainly the networks have to be looking for and embracing new models-and that is the result of, quite frankly, people watching less of the big five. There are three components to any marketplace-demand, supply and psychology.  When one of those core components gets altered, it does have a great effect. This year saw price increases as the demand outstripped supply.

If the declining ratings were driving advertisers out of the medium then the loss of supply would have less of an effect. But, given what's been reserved by advertisers for next year it looks like spending will be fairly constant to up-a-bit."