The 2018 Upfronts have officially wrapped. Last week, all of the major networks and TV advertisers came together to talk deals and take stock in the industry. From cord-cutting to artificial intelligence, there was no shortage of narratives. But what were the most important themes for the market? Here are four that popped up again and again and are likely to continue to dominate conversations well into the summer.
Primetime advertising remains competitive
Historically, the best TV advertising spots were synced with primetime programming on the most popular networks. And while streaming has largely taken over the zeitgeist, networks – including CBS, Disney and others – still view those coveted primetime spots as a way to make money from advertising. Brands, at the same time, see primetime advertising as a valuable way to reach their core audience. Advertisers are still willing to shell out top dollar for one of these prime spots, with demand through the roof and advertisers aggressively outbidding each other. No matter how you slice it, advertisers still value primetime, even with networks as a whole experiencing their lowest ratings ever.
Do fewer commercials mean more exposure?
Although TV advertising remains competitive, it’ll soon reach new heights as networks – such as NBC Universal – reduce the number of commercials during their programming. The hope is that this will help them compete with streaming giants like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, who largely don’t have commercials. For networks, the challenge here becomes keeping their revenue numbers up. The easiest way they can achieve this is by increasing the cost of the remaining ad slots. If there are fewer commercials, the ads that make it to air will be even more effective, since they’re not competing with as many brands. What’s more, shorter commercial breaks will make the viewer less likely to change channels, resulting in more eyeballs on a given ad.
Emerging technology makes big headlines
Even as the TV industry changes by the day, brands still see its benefits, and are devoting countless dollars to the medium. At this year’s Upfronts, the current growth of technology that’s taking place in TV was among the most prominent and buzzed-about talking points. New and emerging technologies like machine learning and data analytics are giving brands the ability to measure their ads, that way they know how effectively they’re targeting consumers. More sophisticated TV displays -- such as 8K ultra high definition, which has taken over and become the industry’s gold standard -- are also changing the game as to what brands can do.
The investment in TV data is real
TV isn’t nearly as “unscientific” as it used to be. Advertisers want the most granularity possible when it comes to analyzing audiences and targeting so that they can get the most ROI possible. To do this, more and more networks and content providers are teaming up with advanced data solutions that can provide the most accurate insights about TV viewers today. This is one of the most interesting trends that could impact the space during the rest of 2018 and during the years ahead.
The evolution we are seeing right now in the TV space is fascinating to say the least. With new channels of entertainment like streaming now asserting dominance in the market, TV networks will continue to adapt to be the driving force of entertainment in this new age of consumption. It will be interesting to see how the innovations unveiled during this year’s Upfronts -- particularly those around data -- will leave their mark.
Doug Pollack is the general manager of aiTV Products & Innovation for Lotame