|HOME||MEDIAVILLAGE.com||WOMEN ADVANCING||HOOKED UP||MEMBERSHIP INFO||MEMBER COMPANIES||MEDIA BUSINESS REPORT||ECONOMIC FORECASTS||RESEARCH|
Published: November 16, 2007 at 10:06 PM GMT
Last Updated: November 17, 2007 at 10:06 PM GMT
The issues in the continuing strike by the Writers Guild of America against television studios and networks are reasonably clear: writers want a share of revenues generated by the digital extensions and expansions of the network programming they work on; and they are claiming rights to a share of revenues within the same economic construct from new digital content the studios and networks produce.
The challenges are formidable and the only likely scenario will be an agreement by both sides to put a band-aid on the festering issue for another three years until the business realities of digital output are more clearly defined. As I put forward last week, advertisers have the opportunity to step in and underwrite a three year commitment to writers by creating a pool of funds to be distributed to writers, actors and directors until a more permanent solution can be put in place. Essentially, I'm proposing a short-term tax on TV advertising in scripted programming that falls under the Writers Guild purview. Unfortunately, although this could be the best case model for developing a practical solution, it's extremely unlikely to happen.
The strike needs to be resolved no later than mid-January or the traditional timetable for network concept development, script writing and pilot production will unravel. Perhaps there is a silver lining. The fall television season evolved in the earliest days of television when networks produced original series to run from September, when school returned to session and cold weather brought people indoors, to May, when available audiences declined. Summer was a time almost exclusively reserved for primetime repeats. The auto industry conformed its annual new model introduction period to September and October, when interest in new television series was peaked.
While September remains an important month, the number of original episodes produced for major series has declined from 39 annually in the 1950s and 1960s to 22 and, for many series, as few as eight or twelve episodes. In the days when a broadcast network primetime series was required to deliver ratings as high as 30% of the U.S. market, the need to concentrate programming launches during peak viewing seasons was a relevant strategy. Today, when a successful series might generate less than a 4.0 rating among adults 18 to 49, seasonal variations are largely meaningless. In fact, the very concept of launching dozens of new series on multiple networks within a four to six week period is increasingly being viewed as absurd and self-destructive.
If the writers' strike continues, and ultimately causes the collapse of the traditional TV development, pilot, Upfront and fall season continuum, it would not necessarily be a bad thing for the industry.
Similarly, the network television Upfront selling period is a vestige of a business model that no longer exists. In the 1950s, every primetime network television series, including the nightly news, was sponsored. The Upfront was established for networks to present new series to advertisers, who would select programs they would sponsor. Unsponsored programs were not produced. When ABC was not able to generate full funding for their minimal number of primetime hours, they shifted several series to multiple advertiser participation. Within a few years, the business was transformed from sponsorship to a scattershot reach-based advertising model. Over the years, the Upfront has retained its relevance more because it serves the best interests of networks and buying agencies than for logistical value. If the Upfront were to disappear, it might return next year, but my guess is that both networks and agencies will discover its loss did not materially affect their businesses.
In the meantime, cable and syndication are well positioned to capitalize on the strike. Digital video revenues, ironically, will be accelerated. Print, radio, place-based and out-of-home media, and alternative media options will all benefit. The challenge of broadcast network erosion promises to be a major issue this year strike or not, so realities of viewing patterns are going to be highlighted in negotiations and discussions between network buyers and sellers.
The writers' strike, if not settled very quickly, is a catalyst that will impact the television business for decades ahead, pushing forward the agenda of many in the industry who have sought changes to traditional business models they consider outdated and irrelevant. Strikes often come down to which side has the least to gain and the most to lose – in this case it's really tough to figure that out. Add your comments and observations on which side is right, wrong and most likely to blink first.
Multi-Sensory Experiences for Brands
This week on Mindshare's Culture Vulture Live, Mark Potts explores multi-sensory opportunities for brands.
TV is from Mars and Video is from Venus
In a spring 2015 trend report Business Insider stated that video ad revenue will double in just two years and reach nearly $5 billion in 2016, up from $2.8 billion in 2013. Consumers' engagement online, over multiple devices, increases daily. As the landscape for what exactly constitutes "TV" or "video" changes rapidly, advertisers are racing to keep up.
The Macro Forces Behind Slow GDP Growth
Ever since the end of the Great Recession a few years ago, there has been much written about the lack of both economic growth and inflation. Much of this coverage mentions that the post-recession recovery is much slower than the recovery of past recessions of the late 20th century.
Early AT&T/DirecTV Merger Questions
Now that the consummation of AT&T's merger with DirecTV is done, how will this $40 billion-plus deal impact consumers from both parties and the TV world at large? Chances are you haven't heard much over that question up to now, in part because of how this deal was completed last week -- Federal Communications Commission approval mid-Friday afternoon, and AT&T putting out a press release, and only a release, of the consummation less than two hours later. That's way late for much analysis on the part of the business news channels or journalism in general.
Is TV Currency Dead? Predictions from AOL Open Series
There is a lot of talk these days about the changing TV landscape, from the advancement of programmatic to the demise of dayparts, the Upfront and even our current currency. All of this made for a lively discussion at the recent AOL Open Series on Programmatic TV. The event featured a panel of media executives from across the spectrum including Dermot McCormack, President AOL Video and Studios; Jaime Power, Senior Partner at MODI Media; Dana Hayes Jr, Group Vice President of Global Partner Development for Acxiom, and Dan Aversano, Senior Vice President, Client & Consumer Insights at Turner Broadcasting. The panel was moderated by Dan Ackerman, Senior Vice President, Programmatic TV at Adap.tv.
Is the ESPN Bubble About to Burst?
It’s episode 24 of Media Unplugged with branding authority Tom Asacker and media strategist Mark Ramsey.
At Summer TCA 2015, Netflix is Everything
Is Netflix everything? It certainly seemed that way yesterday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel during the historic opening day of the 2015 Summer Television Critics Tour. In a quantum leap of participation, and perhaps as a reflection of its current position in the home entertainment marketplace, Netflix impressively filled an entire day with panels for current and upcoming programs, along with a session with Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos (pictured at top). And just like that, the scrappy streamer joined the ranks of CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and FX – the only programmers who consistently present full days of panels during TCA tours, at least those in the summer.
Stuart Elliott: A 'Gawkward' Media Moment
It probably won't be long before the gatekeepers at the world's dictionaries are asked to approve a new word: "Gawkward," meaning an embarrassing or discomforting situation drenched in schadenfreude, as when a website known for anything-goes posts that upset and provoke others gets a turn in the barrel.
The Generation Gap(s) in Digital Media
One of the less appealing characteristics of the more strident members of the digital community is their habit of suggesting that the world of media planning, buying and selling was ill-informed, ill served by its measurements and entirely unaccountable until they came along.
Media Execs' Priorities for New Media Marketplace
The rapid proliferation of new digital, mobile and social (DMS) channels has completely changed the way that companies are connecting with their consumers. DMS channels are increasingly becoming a top priority for advertisers when developing strategies and campaigns to target and engage their consumers. The opportunities and challenges that this shifting landscape presents have been well documented.
Rob Norman @ VidCon: What Makes Selfies Stick?
VidCon is no longer cool. I know this because I was there and history tells me that the moment I show up, that's it for the whole “cool” thing.
Mindshare: The New Emoji World Order
This week on Mindshare’s Culture Vulture Live, Alexis Fragale looks at the increasing popularity of emojis and what brands are doing with them.
SMI: June Ad Market Suffers with Absence of World Cup Dollars
Pundits hoping for a strong June to help deliver a strong end to the quarter will be disappointed with SMI’s latest numbers.
Emmy Nominees 2015: Comedy Snags and Snubs
As I said last week, when it comes to nominating top talent, it is increasingly clear that Emmy and I don’t think alike.
Stuart Elliott: July Madness -- Shop ‘til Who Drops?
Among my favorite movies about advertising is the 1940 screwball comedy "Christmas in July," which mocks one of Madison Avenue's most popular consumer come-ons, the slogan-writing contest. The plot is centered on an ambitious young clerk whose co-workers trick him into believing he's won a $25,000 prize, back in the day when that was real money.