The speculation over how this year's network TV upfront will work out has begun in earnest, and the overall theme is, of course, that it will be down; the only question is by how much. Here are some individual headlines:
- Ad Age predicts volume among the broadcast nets will be down by 10 percent to 20 percent.
- TNS Media Intelligence sees a decline in ad spending of 4 percent at the 10:00 hour in primetime, with ABC and CBS gaining share in the wake of NBC's move of Jay Leno to that time slot.
- Barclays Capital's Anthony DiClemente predicts a 15 percent decline in ad revenue for the broadcast nets Big Four.
- CBS CEO Les Moonves tells analysts on its first quarter earnings call that, "We're confident that we will take share and maintain or increase our revenue."
But there's one important dynamic to remember here. Because of moving Leno to 10 p.m. NBC has a somewhat different cost structure than its main competitors. It may well expect its share of revenue to go down at 10 p.m., but its profit margin for the cheap-to-produce, five-nights-a-week Leno show, will be much higher than it used to be. When you see that NBC's take in the upfront is down, take it with a grain of salt.
MoneyWatch Poll: How Has the Financial Crisis Affected You?