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TelevisionWeek is supplementing its wall-to-wall news coverage of this year’s upfront TV advertising market with a staff blog bringing readers all the sights, sounds and flavors of the network presentations and parties.

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June 2006 Archives

UF Blog Entry #18: BLOGGED OUT...

June 23, 2006 5:57 PM

And so a grand experiment this truly was. My thanks again to Chuck Ross for being the blogmaster.

This indeed is the final entry in what was designed to be a “limited run series.” Figured I should end it before it gets canceled. Besides, the timing is perfect. … Next week cable heats up big time.

I hope my comments were taken with the good humor and collegial ribbing that was intended … some yucks and some thought starters.

So why has the pace of this UF threatened to turn my blog into a World Wide Web version of “War and Peace”?

Sure, ya can point to the “live” debate, digi ops, pricing tug ‘o war, uf/scatter hedging, etc. But I really think it’s about two fundamentals:

* The buying community was determined to take as much control of the UF process as possible — and much like the team with the BBall, they are playing a slow-down offense … and why not?
*
* This pace gives advertisers more time to analyze their business realities and make adjustments accordingly.

So, those of us on the sell side simply need to be patient (we really don’t do that too well) and run a strong marathon.

To my colleagues, friends and worthy competitors, have a fruitful upfront and a safe, enjoyable summer.

BLOG ON (CLAP, CLAP) BLOG OFF (CLAP, CLAP) THE BLOGGER.

UF Blog Entry #17: PLAY IT AGAIN SAM....

June 22, 2006 10:45 AM

While the pace is the same, so is the trend … ongoing registrations tied to unique, customized ideas and ownership positions in our top properties.

FARBisms
WORDS - “TIPPING POINT” - defined as the point in time in which a technology, procedure, service or philosophy has reached critical mass and becomes mainstream.

In the cable industry, we used this term frequently when we hit the inflection point of passing the viewership to broadcast nets. It also was the title of the popular book by Malcom Gladwell.

I’ve reached my personal tipping point. Please:

o No more stories about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
o Stop running commercials for Empire Carpet with the retro jingle and animated mustachioed carpet guy.
o Find another blog to read, since my final entry will be this Friday.

Blog Entry #16: MUSIC ROCKS......

June 20, 2006 5:51 PM

…it’s time for another musical interlude, with apologies and thanks to Billy Joel:

SOME FOLKS LIKE TO PLACE THEIR BUCKS,
TAKE A HOLIDAY FROM THEIR BUYING CHORES
HOP A RIDE TO THE HAMPTONS, OR THE JERSEY SHORE
I’M TAKING MY METRO NORTH ON THE HUDSON
RIVER LINE- I’M IN AN UPFRONT STATE OF MIND.

I’VE SEEN ALL THE STUDIES WITH THEIR FANCY CLAIMS
AND CONCLUSIONS.
BEEN CRUNCHING MY NUMBERS TILL THEIR
GOOD AND DONE.
BUT I KNOW THAT I’M READY, AND I
DON’T WANT TO WASTE MORE TIME-
I’M IN AN UPFRONT STATE OF MIND. IT WAS SO EASY IN THE EARLY DAYS
THREE BIG NETS AND NOTHING TO LOSE.
BUT NOW WE HAVE A LOT OF GIVE AND TAKE-
THE CABLE NETS, THE DOT COMS TOO.

IT COMES DOWN TO THE CPMS. JUST FORGET
YOUR FRIENDS, BUT I’LL LET IT SLIDE.
DON’T CARE IF IT’S JULY 4TH, OR IN AUGUST TIME.
I DON’T’ HAVE ANY REASONS, I’VE LEFT
THEM ALL BEHIND. I’M IN AN UP
FRONT STATE OF MIND.

UF Blog Entry #15: HOT TOWN, SUMMER IN THE CITY......

June 19, 2006 7:03 PM

As if the UF needed to slow down, the 3 Hs will surely keep it from getting over-heated. We’re getting our pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together, and the picture looks good.FARBisms

MOVIE THEATER EXPERIENCE: So what is the most painful thing to endure? It comes before the “coming attractions”…..the new lame reminders about what not to do during the film…no smoking, talking, etc. The latest has the cast of Two and a Half Men and King of Queens doing breathtakenly awful skits. At least they make the in-cinema ads look better.

Blog Entry #14: REST UP FOR NEXT WEEK

June 16, 2006 7:26 PM

Like some of you who are TV academy members, we receive a truck load of DVDs (with clever packaging) of programs vying for EMMY nominations this time of year. Gotta be another way. Maybe temporary drive-in theaters can be established that have everything on a giant loop? In NY, screens could be used in Central Park and Bryant Park, turning the process into an event … with sponsors?

FARBisms

A co-worker insisted that I draw inspiration from my Hip Hop pal, Eminem. Enjoy the weekend…..


The coin starts flowing cause the UF starts a goin’.
The buyers placing bets
On the stuff that looks best.
Plus, minus, flat
Is a very tired act.
Ya better dig deeper
Or clients will shout a bleeper.
Yo, time for negotiation
Then it’s off to recreation.
Ho, Hey, Ho FARB OUT!

Blog Entry #13: THE GOOD NEWS IS....

June 15, 2006 6:45 PM

…that despite the tendency for the UF buying bazzar (or is that bizarre?) to be an over-commoditized affair, Brands, Programming, Digital Platforms, Marketing Solutions, and GOOD IDEAS, Do Matter! … That’s our take so far.

FARBisms

* WORDS — I was invited to attend a business RETREAT. Merriam Webster defines it as “an act or process of withdrawing, especially from what is difficult, dangerous or disagreeable.”… Maybe we should just build a bunker?

* WORST INTERVIEW QUESTION - Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

* YO MARIANNE, To answer your question, NGC is not sitting in the Conga line, we’re already dancing. Best - back at ya, TV Week buddy.

Blog Entry #12: FINALLY!

June 14, 2006 6:58 PM

Getting too busy to post these blogs.
Ok, so it wasn’t as easy as ABC…glad they’re in the poker game!

FARBisms

* POETIC JUSTICE:The UF will
slowly get done,
by the light of the summer sun,
how strong doesn’t
matter cause
I’ll see ya in
scatter, when
pricing will really
be fun!
*
PHRASES TO BE OUTLAWED:

  • Win/Win
  • Sounds like a plan
  • Spots and dots (what the heck are dots?)
  • This isn’t brain surgery
  • Think outside the box

Blog Entry #11: ARE WE THERE YET?

June 13, 2006 7:14 PM

While there are pockets of heat with individual advertisers, particularly with certain “BIG IDEAS,” the answer is a deafening NO. That’s ok, time is on our side, yes it is. . This pace will allow sales orgs to strategically better manage their inventory.

This is a good time for another musical thought to be sung to the tune of WHITE CHRISTMAS.

I’m dreaming of a strong upfront.
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the pitches glisten
And buyers listen, to hear
Loads and loads of dough.

I’m dreaming of a strong upfront.
With every email that I write,
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your UF times
Be nice.

FARBisms

UF FUTURESHOCK PART IV: In the year 2016, now in his second term, POTUS Donald Trump is teaming again with Mark Burnett for the ultimate product placement: The hydrogen-powered Cadillac Escalade is the official White House limo, Air Force One is powered by Ethanol from ADM, which receives prominent IDs on the wings, Coke is the official beverage at Camp David, and the West Wing of the White House is being used by NBC Telemundo for its bilingual remake of the West Wing - starring Charlie Sheen.

Blog Entry # 10: EXTRA, EXTRA, UF SPONSORED BY BENJAMIN MOORE!

June 12, 2006 6:43 PM

Translation…this UF is like watching paint dry. In addition to the pace (methodical, deliberate, thoughtful), there sure is a lot of misinformation about what’s really going on. There is a lack of VISIBILITY… a word that became part of the lexicon of the finance industry, defined as: capability of providing a clear unobstructed view.

As for us, our chats continue to get more serious with a variety of shops and advertisers, particularly in the automotive category.

FARBisms

* PHRASES - “At the end of the day…” This used to mean getting home from work, going to bed, having dinner, relaxing. … Now it means … in the final analysis, the bottom line is, the net/net is, when all is said and done … how did this transformation take place?

* UF FUTURESHOCK PART III- In the Year 2016, UGC (User Generated Content) now represents 25% of all original TV programming airing on national TV networks. After a year of corporate infighting, The CW will split into 2 net works, The CW and The WC. Details were unavailable at press time.

UF Blog Entry #9: TWAS THE FRIDAY BEFORE REGISTRATIONS AND ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE......

June 9, 2006 6:58 PM

Yup, it’s beginning to look a lot like X-Mas … well let’s just say that we’re getting closer to being under the mistletoe.

FARBisms

* WORDS - Incumbents - defined as a holder of office, occupant. I’m not so sure that advertisers REALLY want to be referred to as if they are politicians.

* UF FUTURESHOCK PART II - Back to the future in 2016: The John Malone vision of 500 channels looks like a quaint theory … at last count, 7,235 channels are being measured by CorneaMeter LLP. Sony Electronics announced that it is approximately a year away from launching the first Hologram TV, with an introductory price of $250,000. Apple’s line now consists of IPODS, YOUPODS, USPODS, and WEPODS. With the unbundling of media-buying consortiums, there are now 75 key boutique shops that have average client rosters of four accounts.

* While walking to a group lunch today, a certain Fox Cable sales exec announced that he had split his pants in the back. I asked if that meant he was open for business? Well, he may not be, but I know come Monday, we are!

UF Blog Entry #8: LIVIN’ HIGH ON THE BLOG

June 8, 2006 6:15 PM

insider2  

Thank you to my friends and colleagues who have said that they are enjoying this BLOGFEST...GET A LIFE!

Lately, I've had a recurring nightmare: I'm writing Blog Entry #300. ... The pace of this UF feels like NIGHTLINE during the Iran hostage crisis, DAY 67, etc. … My blog might run longer than most broadcast prime time series.

Pretty sure that next week, cable becomes active in earnest, even if all broadcast net biz is not finished.

FARBisms

  • Issues for the U.S. Senate to focus on: Iraq War, nukes in N. Korea and Iran, the economy, the environment, price of gas, healthcare, education, etc. So why is Senator John McCain (and others) spending so much energy on the ill conceived cable a la carte initiative? Anyway, the only channel this might make sense for is the Food Network.
  • WORDS ... Endemics, defined as "characteristic of a particular field." We of course us it when referring to certain advertiser categories. But when I started in the biz, I thought it had something to do with the Killer Flu. 
 

 

UF Blog Entry #7: YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO DO IT

June 7, 2006 6:23 PM

insider2 
  
 Do what you may ask? ... Be a slave to INSTITUTIONALIZED SPENDING PATTERNS. It's easy to buy the same old way and the same old things. But with fragmentation galore, it just won't be effective. The solution is not to follow the supposed Holy Grail of Reach and Supplier Consolidation. All that does is increase MEDIA WASTE (unqualified customers for clients) and often, cost. Be open to utilizing new networks, ideas and opportunities to truly connect with clients' core customers and prospects.

 FARBisms
 

 



  •  Most overused UF phrase: "You're not a must buy." After all, these days, what IS a must buy? If the entire buying community ONLY bought "must buys" how many billions of $ would be left over? It should be about what we would like to buy on behalf of our clients because it makes sense.






  •  WORDS - Portal ... the dictionary defines it as "a doorway, entrance, or gate, especially one that is large and imposing." So, all of you UF "Agency Portals" out there, are you physically large and imposing ... or is it your buying clout?





  •  UF FUTURESHOCK PART I: What do you suppose it will look like in 2016? Well, DisneyViaCast  will be one of the three major global media operations. There will be an UF each quarter across all video platforms. What was known as scatter will be accommodated through an electronic trading system developed by a JV of NASDAQ, Cisco and Texas Instruments. Nearly half of all video usage will come from human chip implants, approved by the FDA after five years of trials. AMERICAN IDOL remains the #1 prime time program, but actual program content is 15% and long form commercials occupy 85% of running time. Most top Hollywood film producers are spending more of their time on long form spots than feature films.



 

 

Blog Entry #6: PRIDE & PRECENDENT

June 6, 2006 6:06 PM

insiderbanner2
 

So, my friends in the full time press continue to succumb to characterizing all things UF as a contest, with winners and losers,and, as a race...so tonight I won't keep score. Makes for an interesting read I guess, but this is really not a sporting event...would anyone buy a ticket to watch? The DVR issue was not about PRIDE (or greed), but about trying to avoid the establishment of a dangerous precedent. Don't buyers and sellers both want to find ways to capture viewers that migrate to new platforms? The problem of course is that there is no sanctioned data that evaluates the value of the time shifted viewer. Buyers say zero and sellers say plenty. Could the truth be in the middle, and vary based on the commercial message itself? 

To recall an incident from Dan Rather's past...Kenneth, what's the currency? FARBisms  Words- There are HOLDS, SOFT HOLDS and PINS. Problem is that many folks don't know what they really mean. I was always taught that a HOLD is tantamount (a peak in the Andes mountain chain) to an order. I wish todo el mundo got it.  

 

UF Snack Tonite- It's 6/6/06...Deviled Eggs.


 

 

UF Blog Entry #5: EASY AS 123

June 5, 2006 5:12 PM

insiderbanner2

So, this UF really wanted to follow the alphabet, and with ABC it goes.As the UF unfolds, it's sure a good time to remember what is at the core of our business. First what's not:


  • Getting invited to the MTV Video Awards

  • Putting spots into your favorite program, when it's off-target.

  • Finding someone to take a half-share at the Jersey Shore.

  • Indiscriminately meeting GRP goals.


It IS about helping marketers effectively sell their products and services.

We can always use a little music in our lives, so I encourage you to sing the following out loud, to the tune of New York, New York.

START PLACING THE DOUGH
REGISTRATIONS TODAY
IT'S TIME TO BE A PART OF IT
UP FRONT, UP FRONT

THESE DVR BLUES
ARE MELTING AWAY
LET'S GET TO THE HEART OF IT
UP FRONT, UP FRONT

I WANT TO WAKE UP IN A MARKET
THAT DOESN'T SLEEP
TO FIND WE'RE KINGS OF TV
TOP OF THE HEAP.

MY MEDIA BLUES
ARE LOOKING TO STRAY
I'M GONNA MAKE A BRAND NEW START OF IT
IN THIS UP FRONT.
IF I CAN GET MY PRICE
THAT WOULD BE AWFULLY NICE.
IT'S UP TO YOU,
UP FRONT, UP FRONT.

UP FRONT, UP FRONT.

I WANT TO WAKE UP IN A MARKET
THAT DOESN'T SLEEP
TO FIND WE'RE KINGS OF TV
HEAD OF ALL NETS
CREAM OF THE COMP.
TOP OF THE HEAP.

THESE DVR BLIES
ARE MELTING AWAY
I'M GONNA MAKE A BRAND NEW START OF IT.
IN THIS UP FRONT.
IF I CAN GET MY PRICE
THAT WOULD BE AWFULLY NICE
COME ON, COME THROUGH.
UP FRONT, UP FRONT.

 

 

Blog Entry #4: CUTTING THROUGH THE BLOG

June 5, 2006 4:55 PM

insider2

The industry seems to be inching closer to resolving the great DVR debate, so buckle up for thrills and chills ... just like on our [shameless plug] SUPERCOASTERS special.When the day comes that our currency becomes commercial viewership, who's gonna rate the creative? Creative is not created equal. Ya know what -- if viewership indeed decreases vs. program ratings, and CPM increases commensurately, who cares?

Some networks have actually had robust scatter markets during this season. … I know we sure did. It won't be surprising if some of us sell a little less inventory in this UF.

Word has it that tonight and this weekend, budgets will be refined and registered for the broadcast nets, and real action will begin next week. Be safe out there.

FARBisms
UF RULE #1: KEEP PERSPECTIVE: This is important stuff for our respective orgs, but don't let it tap into your darker side.

ANALYSIS PARALYSIS: Yeah we're under scrutiny and need to defend our decisions. That said, there are some pretty smart, experienced people out there. ... They should be allowed to put that to use and Pull The Trigger. ... Don't wait for my hair to look like Taylor Hicks'.

WORDS: STEWARDSHIP -- According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care. It does make sense for our industry! When I first started out and heard the word, I thought it might have something to do with folks we now call flight attendants.

Blog Entry # 3

June 5, 2006 1:37 PM

 insiderbanner2

For all you closet responders to this BLOG ... please don't just call or email me ... respond on the BLOG. You can be anonymous or use a catchy alias. ... Jennifer Garner, YOU can call me.So, I'm certain that my agency friends don't want to be prepping UF decks during Labor Day weekend ... let's get it on!

It's been reported that glacial progress is being made in resolving the DVR measurement stalemate. ... Weigh in ... is it T or F?

In the meantime, we're chatting with our customers to get a better read on actual budgets before we "engage" in serious hugging.

Fondest UF Memory- Many years back having a heated exchange with one of the most outspoken media chiefs in the biz. It was during the Kids UF at 3:00 AM. I described the encounter to my wife who had a great take. ... DUELING D*CKS!

FARBisms:
Words: Registrations - as in we're gonna register a budget. Where did that come from? Reminds me of standing in line at college trying not to get aced out of a great course or Prof.

Words Part II: Clutter - as in there's too much clutter on TV. We gotta find a better word to describe this. Sounds like we're a bunch of decorators in search of Feng Shui.

POSTED ON 6.01.06 @ 7:01 P.M. ET

Blog Entry # 2: UP FRONT BLOGGED DOWN?

June 5, 2006 1:14 PM

insiderbanner2.jpg   

  

No big surprise, the high stakes game of media chicken continues. Pretty sad that our industry can't find a better way to resolve our buy/sell differences....and the ultimate irony, at the center is Nielsen Research. In chatting today with one of my favorite buying chiefs at a major shop, I know my thoughts are shared. Maybe we need George Mitchell or even Henry Kissinger to mediate....We'll call it the Camp DVR Accord. 

 

 

So, what about National Geographic Channel (NGC)?.....Also, no big surprise. We've closed, YES closed, a major media and marketing partnership which ties to one of our most buzzworthy properties. 

 

 

Does that mean the Up Front is breaking?....I suspect that the only thing breaking is the water of thousands of women nearing the miracle of childbirth...kinda like in our (SHAMELESS PLUG) UF Special: in the Womb- Multiples. As Lefko says, with my triplets, and his quads and twins, we may not be the #1 sales management team, but we are the most prolific. 


 

FARBisms: 

 

 

Rankers- another way of saying: sorry, we're too lazy to evaluate your unique attributes and offerings, so we're gonna arbitrarily use RANK (insert # here) as a cut-off.

 


The Waiting Game- so how long are ya gonna wait?


 

 

.....We've had excellent adventures hammering out BIG IDEAS. ...it takes lead time to make them actionable with flawless execution...


 

 

Don't It?


 

 

The Good News- maybe we'll actually be able to mutually focus on 3Q Scatter? Words- can't we use another word besides ORGANIC when we talk about product placement? Organic reminds me of the premium my wife likes us to pay for milk. My Lunch Today- got together with a reporter (From another organization...now I feel dirty).


 

 

When I ordered DECAF he took that as another sign of lack of action...thinking I passed on a jolt of real java. Guess he shoulda ordered tea leaves. 

POSTED ON 5.31.06 @ 6:46 P.M. ET 

 

Blog Entry # 1

June 5, 2006 1:01 PM

insiderbanner2

We're delighted to be participating in this (hopefully) grand experiment and my special thanks to Chuck Ross for establishing this Goldblog, or is it Blogfarb? ... I'll let you decide.So, for National Geographic Channel (NGC) it started back in October with "The Plan" for the Broadcast UF. ... marketing, videos, sales strategy, program development and scheduling etc. ...Then on to hundreds of presentations with our customers, including two NY UF events and one in Chicago. Followed by the construction of customized advertiser solutions and media shop "ASKS". And now it has come down to this. ... THE market is + this and - that. Come on guys, our industry has a metric to capture relative values and it's called a CPM. Plus, there is no such thing as THE market. In fact, it's many small, medium and large marketplaces that roll up into THE über market.

Each Upfront seems to take on a character of its own, is this the year of engagement, marriage or divorce? Is it the year of digital platforms and DVRs? Or is it the year of an already imperfect audience measurement system, further challenged by designations like nearly Live + 1, Dead - 7, etc? Perhaps it's the year of max flexibility for ad spends? Maybe it's all of these? So where are we? We (NGC) are already engaged in discussions, AKA negotiations with a number of pieces of business. All networks have their "drivers". For us, the demand for Dog Whisperer, NGC Digital and Incredible Earth Specials appear to outpace our supply.



Is it true that we sell, negotiate and partner throughout the year? ... Of course. That said, is it also true that the Upfront still serves a purpose for many buyers and sellers? ... I believe so. For those that would consider an electronic trading system, if cost efficiency is the ONLY goal, perhaps that's a worthy undertaking. However, it seems unlikely that a system like that could capture the elements that drive media EFFECTIVENESS.



FARBisms:
If advertisers are truly concerned about commercial clutter, why do they create and air so many :15's?



Have you noticed that certain media shops embrace the best stuff that sales orgs offer and others are scared away by accompanying (relatively) premium pricing? While client rosters can contribute mightily to the mix, it seems that corporate culture is also at play.



Not to bite the site that blogs me, but what's with yesterday's TVWeek.com Header- "Slow Start to Ailing TV Market". My triplets gotta fill you in on the Tortoise and the Hare. In all the discussions about ROI, and accountability, the burden seems to be placed squarely on media executions. What about the creative?



Lastly, I guess I'm supposed to channel the great Carson as his Carnac character, so here it goes. ...




Overall, national TV UF spending will be up slightly. Broadcast nets will be flat to minimally down, depending on how you account for digital $. Surprise!... Cable will be UP, with syndication flat to slightly up. Overall pricing will be up, in the mid-single digits.




The market will indeed move slowly (the PASSWORD is "methodical") over the course of several weeks, with fits and starts (the fits from shops that think the silence will rattle sellers ... don't bet on it).

 Believe me, this inaugural entry will be my longest! So let's let the games begin, and to a certain media honcho...feel free to come on over to us, our pizza is always hot! 

POSTED ON 5.30.06 @ 4:20 P.M. (ET)