Remember the upfront? That market where the majority of advertising is sold for the coming year following the upfront presentations, which wrapped up a week and a half ago? Where'd it go? Is it happening? Did everyone enjoy the merlot and canapes and then decide they'd be fine, thank you, spending their ad dollars on the Internet?
No. But, the ad and media trades are reporting that it looks to be a long standoff between the broadcast nets, which want to defy predictions of potential double digit declines in upfront sales, and, buyers, who, in this market, are making it obvious that agreeing to pay more for network TV is for chumps. CBS CEO Les Moonves has been predicting for months now that his network would see increases because of CBS' strong performance, and, while the rest of the networks have not been so bold, much is being read into the statement by Fox ad sales chief Jon Nesvig that the network hadn't decided to rollback the prices it charged for the current TV season. In other words, so the reading of the tea leaves goes, don't expect any discounts for the coming season, either.
So when will buyers and sellers actually start doing deals? One media buyer predicted not until mid-June. I actually think it could take longer. Though this radio silence following the noise of the upfront presentations is nothing new,the incentive for advertisers to sit, and wait, and wait, and wait until the networks drop their prices has seldom been stronger; the economy remains mostly in the mire, network ratings are down by and large, and other media channels like cable, keep proving their worth. It's going to be a long wait.