During the week, new broadcast programs slated to debut in the fall are presented to advertisers and ad agencies. At the end of last week, some of the networks canceled a myriad of shows to make room for their newest offerings. Industry insiders are predicting a strong selling season after a 2-year decline in upfront TV ad spending.
Last year, television's take declined 3% to $17.8 billion, according to data from research firm Media Dynamics. Network sales executives say some of the marketing dollars that shifted to digital video advertising are coming back to TV. The reasons for this includes TV's ability to quickly reach a wide area of the country, security in knowing where the ads will run and that it’s easier to buy than other forms of media. Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO Randall Rothenberg acknowledged that ad agencies are still learning how to best deploy digital ads and the fluctuations of money back into more traditional media are to be expected.
The TV industry has recently been encouraged by the sharp increase in rates for commercials in what they call the "scatter market," the commercial time that is bought closer to airtime during the TV season. Those spots are currently going for 15% to 20% more than what upfront ads sold for last year. Media executives have called it the strongest scatter market they have seen in many years. TV ad sales departments are aggressively applying some of the tools that digital media companies offer to advertisers. Viacom, Turner and NBCUniversal have stepped up the use of data products that help sell commercials that target audiences based on their buying habits in addition to gender and age. According to David Levy, president of Turner Broadcasting, "The main selling point for digital was it had all this data and could do all these audience-targeting deals but now television can deliver those same kind of benefits and have a stronger reach vehicle and a stronger megaphone."
This week advertisers and agencies can expect to hear…
ABC cleaned house canceling long-running drama Castle which was a bit of a shock but luckily for fans the producers were prepared for a cancellation and filmed two different endings, one that could serve as a series finale and one that could serve as a season finale. Also canceled was fan-favorite series Marvel's Agent Carter, musical comedy Galavant, The Muppets, and The Family. Earlier, in the week ABC canceled the country soap Nashville after four seasons. The buzz right now is that the show could find a new home on a streaming service such as Hulu, which counts Nashville as one of its most-watched programs. The network experienced the biggest losses in viewers and in the 18-to-49 demographic among the networks (percentage drops of 14 percent and 18 percent).
ABC will introduce Ms. Dungey, the first black network president. Ms. Dungey’s new lineup will include the Kiefer Sutherland drama Designated Survivor, about a low-level United States cabinet member who takes over the presidency after a large-scale attack. ABC will also pick up a period drama from Shonda Rhimes, Still Star-Crossed, about the Montagues and the Capulets after the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.
Taking the Super Bowl out of the picture, NBC would have finished the year in first place for Adults 18-49. Clear winners for the network were Little Big Shots, Blindspot and The Wiz Live. The Voice remains a very strong performer as well. NBC canceled five series: Game of Silence, Heartbeat, Crowded, Telenovela, and Undateable.
This year’s upfront presentation will include all of NBCUniversal’s properties, not just the broadcast networks. NBC is trying to bring its comedy back to life with The Good Place, a show from the Parks and Recreation” co-creator Michael Schur starring Ted Danson, and Great News, produced by Tina Fey. The network has high hopes for Timeless, a time-travel thriller, and the costly drama Emerald City. The Celebrity Apprentice will return without Donald J. Trump: Arnold Schwarzenegger is the new host.
CBS was the most-watched network for the 13th time in the last 14 years and finished on top for the 18-to-49-year-old demographic as well. The Big Bang Theory, in its ninth season, was once again the No. 1 comedy on TV, and NCIS was the most-viewed drama for the seventh consecutive year. Other top performers include Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds and surprisingly Survivor. CBS did cancel CSI: Cyber ending the last spinoff from that franchise. They also announced that Supergirl will be now be shuffled over to CBS’s sister network, the CW.
CBS will introduce new comedies with two stars (Kevin James in Kevin Can Wait and Matt LeBlanc in Man With a Plan) and a few reboots: MacGyver, based on the 1980’s show, and Training Day, based on the 2001 movie. The network will also promote its Star Trek revival, which is being devised for its stand-alone app, CBS All Access.
FOX canceled its freshman comedies which includes The Grinder & Grandfathered along with The Minority Report. Empire continues to perform well despite a dip in ratings during its second season. The six-episode run of The X-Files turned out to be surprisingly successful. It brought in meaningful ratings, and Fox executives are hopeful that there will be plenty more episodes going forward. Fox also managed to climb out of last place among the big four networks and will finish in third place in the 18-to-49 demographic.
With American Idol shutting down, Fox has a lot of hours to fill, and it plans on doing it with reboot mania. Projects include 24, Prison Break, Lethal Weapon and The Exorcist. Fox will also have another show, Star, from Lee Daniels, the creator of Empire. Additionally this year Fox will broadcast the Super Bowl in February which will help them greatly in the ratings war.