On the heels of the upfront presentations, there were two major trends that came up time and again this year: Mergers & Streaming. And as has been the case in recent years, each network group took turns touting their ‘scale and brand safety’, while trying to compel the advertisers and agency attendees that their best bet would be to spend their marketing dollars with them instead of their competitors. Mergers and Acquisitions Between ABC/Fox/Disney, Warner/Turner/ATT, and NBCU/Comcast – these massive evolving media conglomerates were front and center during upfront week and were prime targets of the comedians as well. “Because it’s AT&T, the reception will be very bad. Because it’s AT&T, the after-party will only have two bars,” Conan O’Brien joked at the upfront presentation, poking fun at the new parent company of WarnerMedia. It’s becoming harder and harder for these network groups to cover each of their properties in one presentation, but they all tried. Comcast/NBCU were able to cover NBC, Bravo, USA, Oxygen, SyFy, Telemundo, NBC Sports, and E! in just over 90min. Thanks to the Disney acquisition, Fox’s presentation focused only on the network’s primetime programming and sports, since Disney now owns most of their cable properties. And Disney sure had a lot to share. Their 2.5+ hour presentation covered ABC, ESPN, Disney, Freeform, FX, and National Geographic. Turner Media has also been renamed to the aforementioned WarnerMedia. They covered TBS, TNT, TruTV, Cartoon Network / Adult Swim, Bleacher Report, and CNN in a swift hour and 15 minute presentation. What it means The synergies across multiple properties within one network group should allow for more comprehensive cross-property and cross-platform marketing solutions for our clients. Consolidation of ownership is not always a good thing from a competition standpoint. But as a savvy team, we’ll find ways to use these changes to our advantage and leverage our media dollars to secure the best opportunities. Streaming is King Everyone is coming for Netflix. With live TV viewership continuing to decline, networks are looking to where the eyeballs are migrating – streaming services. After proudly touting The Office as the #1 show on Netflix, Linda Yaccarino, Chairman of Advertising and Client Partnerships at NBC Universal, informed the audience that they would soon be launching their own ad-supported service. WarnerMedia made a similar announcement on Wednesday morning – another yet-to-be-named streaming service. CBS and CW also made time in their presentations to discuss their already live services. But the biggest streaming news came out just hours before the Disney/ABC presentation on Tuesday afternoon when it was announced that they had taken full operational control of Hulu by virtue of the extra 30% share they acquired from Fox. With their stake in Hulu, and Disney+, which is expected to rollout in November, Disney is poised to make an impact in the streaming space. What it means This biggest story in the video landscape over the last few years has been the migration from live TV to streaming. There is only a finite number of ratings that networks can sell, and each year that number shrinks. Over the last few years, networks have been pushing budgets towards their full episode players and over-the-top devices to capitalize on these additional impressions. While adaption was slow to take hold, it is now the new norm and is expected to grow over the coming years. Adding this element to media plans is a necessity to keep pace with changing consumption patterns. Remaining Questions and Predictions While the newly formed media-monopolies and their streaming services seemed to generate the most buzz during upfront week, there was plenty more packed into the presentations. Here are some additional big questions that advertisers were left with, and how our team at AMP sees them playing out: How will CBS and ABC be affected by the departure of their biggest shows, Big Bang Theory and Modern Family? There are certainly big holes to fill, but networks are put in this situation every year. CBS will fill their slot with The Unicorn, a new comedy about a widowed father, and ABC will have one more season of Modern Family before they’re forced to fill that slot. How is The Masked Singer a successful show? The Masked Singer had some great lead-ins when it premiered this January, and FOX has been promoting the program heavily. While successful in season one, ratings declined each week, and it would not be surprising to see lackluster numbers for season two as the novelty wears off. Will viewers adapt as TBS veers away from comedy with dramas like Snowpiercer? Snowpiercer seems like a perfect fit for the sister network, TNT alongside Claws and Animal Kingdom, so placing it on TBS is an interesting choice. Viewers may take a little while to adjust, but expect lots of promotion across the old Turner networks. Can CW continue its success in finding younger viewers with more superhero shows (Batgirl), and a Riverdale spinoff (Katy Keene)? CW knows exactly who they are. While not a linear ratings giant, they serve younger audiences well and excel in the FEP space. We expect CW to continue over-performing with the hard to reach younger demographics. The television industry has seen some major changes in the past few years, and buyers have been forced to adapt and evolve. Networks, advertisers, and viewers are all shaking things up and keeping the industry on its toes, creating a media buying landscape that it is constantly changing. We’re excited to see how this all plays out this coming TV season, and we’ll be back at it next year with more trend analyses and predictions for the 2020 season and beyond.
The ways in which brands engage consumers digitally are constantly changing. Online, brands are conversing with consumers through social media. In print, consumers are interacting with brands via QR codes on their ads. But there is one behemoth in the media world that has been very slow to accommodate a society that enjoys instant interaction: television. Brands are just starting to realize the potential of engaging consumers though TV advertising. Over the past few months this has become misoprostol more noticeable. Cable companies are beginning to offer interactive ads to brands. Here's how an interactive ad works: a commercial will start playing and shortly after, a prompt will appear at the bottom of the screen allowing viewers to decide if they would like to see more information. Brands can also choose to offer product samples, coupons, or other types of perks for the consumer. For example, recently, Comcast customers in Pennsylvania were able to use their remotes during Hershey's commercials to opt to receive coupons for Hershey's candy. There are also ways to engage with television viewers without going through cable companies. Old Navy, after killing their 'Supermodelquins'? campaign, is partnering with Shazam, a music recognition application for smartphones, to interact with television viewers. While Old Navy ads play, a notification appears in the corner of the screen prompting viewers to pull out their smartphones and 'Shazam'? the song playing during the ad. When they do, they are directed to 'secret goodies, song downloads, style tips and more.'? Utilizing methods such as these can provide brands with quantifiable results as to how many consumers actually took the time to interact with their ads - this will aid in gauging the effectiveness of their media spend. In my opinion, television advertising needs to become less 'traditional'? and more innovative if it wants to better compete in the new media market for many reasons. First, viewers are usually engaged in other activities while watching TV ' they are more than willing to multi-task. Second, with the saturation in the market of video game systems like Nintendo Wii, Xbox Kinect, and PlayStation Move, consumers are becoming more accepting of interacting with their television. Finally, if brands don't start engaging viewers via television, they won't appear as technologically savvy as their competitors. We as marketers work in a multi-screen, multi-tasking world and we need to constantly adapt. The possibilities for instantly engaging consumers via television are endless, and worth figuring out.
As we wrap up another year of May 'sweeps'? we bid farewell to one show that has captured the imagination of millions, left audiences on the edge of their seats and will forever be remembered as one of the most groundbreaking network series of all time. I'm talking of course about ABC's Happy Town. Authors Note: Happy Town was cancelled after two episodes. No, clearly I'm talking about LOST. A pop-culture centerpiece for the last six years, wraps up this Sunday (!) with much fanfare. While viewers will be divided over the finale regardless of what happens, it's hard to argue against the success LOST has had as it leaves on a high note. Want proof? The finale is slated to get Super Bowl-sized ad buys. As the LOST finale wraps up, I'm left scrambling for a new show to get hooked on. This past year when I tuned into ABC's FlashForward, I broke one of my cardinal rules of TV watching (Don't Ever, EVER Watch a TV Series in Its Premiere Season). The show started out great, with even a subtle nod to LOST to keep rabid LOST fans speculating about a link between the two shows. FlashForward started off with a 4.0 rating in the 18-49 demo with 12.47 million viewers but hit a low 2.1 rating with 7.1 million viewers. And just like that, it gets axed. Shame. There's a disturbing trend at work here. Networks are wary to jump into big budget series and ride them out for the long haul and quick to cut their losses, leaving viewers frustrated for investing time into a show that usually ends with little closure. For examples of how this can end tragically, check out this list of awesomely bad TV show finales. We've talked at length over the past few years about the continuing fragmentation of media. Consumers now have more choices than ever for places to get their news, find entertainment and stay connected with friends, and the commentary on this has been typically glowing. But there is a flip side to this digital revolution. As media becomes more and more fragmented, and audiences follow suit accordingly, there's less incentive for networks to get behind new big-budget TV dramas like LOST or FlashForward and ride them out when the going gets tough. New York Times writer Lorne Manly (great name, BTW) discussed this issue with LOST showrunners Damon Lindelof and Cartol Cuse in an NYT Q&A last week. MANLY: Do you think a show like yours ' big budget, serialized, very intense, lots of characters ' can still work on network television? CUSE: One of the nostalgic elements of experiencing the end of 'Lost'? is that I also think it's the end of an era. The media landscape has changed dramatically even in the six years of this show. Here we are, we're shooting a show, there are somewhere between 425 people who work on the show, 325 in Hawaii and 100 here in Los Angeles, we shot the show on Panavision, 35-millimeter film, we had two full crews ' the scale and the scope and the size of this, this is the most expensive television series made anywhere in the world. And in this media landscape, it's incredibly hard to capitalize something the way 'Lost'? has been capitalized. We have a fractured media environment, and there are many more choices, but as a result there are smaller resources for every show that gets made, and so we feel a little bit like we're blacksmiths in the Internet era. It's kind of sad because we are big fans of action-adventure and genre and things like that. And when you see the 'Lost'? finale, it's like a movie, and just as fans of television, it's sad to realize that there just won't be that many rolls of the dice of this size and scope. Well, that sucks. Now we'll be left with safer bets, like dime-a-dozen criminal justice-themed shows (current 2010 U.S. shows include: Bones, Castle, The Closer, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, Dark Blue, Detriot 1-8-7, Flashpoint, Fringe, In Plain Sight, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Los Angeles, Medium, The Mentalist, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Numb3rs, Psych, SouthLAnd, White Collar, The Whole Truth). And don't even get me started on reality shows. It's unfortunate that there is a very real possibility that primetime television will fail to continue to capture our imaginations in favor of more cost-conscious content. The mythology of LOST is something that has continually kept fans theorizing, speculating and guessing over the past six years. The social engagement of the show was one of the most compelling reasons to watch. The intense level of fanaticism that would have my iPhone buzzing with texts about the origin of Jacob, post-episode message boards burning up with insanely convoluted theories about religion, philosophy, and metaphysics, along with the watercooler conversations in the office the next morning trying to figure out just what the hell Ben Linus is up to next. I guess finding another show that will give me an experience like that is something that is truly lost.