Comfort in the midst of chaos


It has been a strange week of progress for the television advertising industry. On Monday morning, NBCUniversal created news not with its initial presentation, but with CNBC’s live chat with Discovery and AT&T CEOs David Zaslav and John Stankey, about the stunning Discovery-Warner Media merger. And of course, with Covid-19 vaccinations far from universal, planning for in-person events was not possible, so everything was virtual. It was a particularly hard blow to the events of which the much-vaunted locations from Radio City to Carnegie Hall have always been the main characters themselves.

Yet despite – or because of – the unique context of this year’s presentations, it provided a broad perspective on how mainstream broadcast networks and a few upstart early adopters – remember, it did. was Discovery’s first initial presentation of the week on air – see today’s ad activity. Some takeaways from the week which was:

What if circulation weren’t so important anymore?

The Discovery-Warner Media backdrop further highlighted the almost unrestrained search for scale in the media industry. Do you remember Time Warner? The once seemingly global media colossus is now the non-operational junior partner of a new global media company. And how long did it take to piece together Viacom and CBS, to find out how difficult the size of this company seems today? Comcast bought Sky (formerly Rupert Murdoch’s global media distribution engine) a few years after buying NBCUniversal and every financial analyst just wants to know how they plan to grow. Even Disney has a market capitalization less than 20% of that of digital giants Amazon and Google.

As I watched the initial presenters vigorously push to get us excited about the latest iteration from famed producer Dick Wolf (I then expect to FBI: Scarsdale), I couldn’t help but think of the cinema classic Sunset Boulevard. It’s as if, like William Holden’s character Joe Gillis, we’ve come across the broadcast networks and exclaim, “You were great!” And the networks, a modern-day Norma Desmond, respond: “I AM great! It’s the business which has become small.

Being comfortable is not the enemy – it seems to be the goal

In the past, when a television network came to the fore with no breakout programming ideas, or relatively few new shows for the fall season, a frequent criticism was that it was just “too comfortable.” But comfort now seems to be the motto. Media advertising buyers face tumultuous changes everywhere, looking everywhere for new ways to market their customers’ products to increasingly elusive, fragmented and non-commerce audiences. In response, the networks appear to have landed on a collective theme not far from what NBCU Advertising Director Linda Yaccarino explicitly said: “[We’re] still there.”

In all fairness, networks are all making strides to innovate their advertising businesses, investing in digital-like data and technology capabilities to better compete and, more importantly, to integrate with connected TV offerings. During the initial week, the new and complex acronyms associated with such efforts – especially DRAX, Disney Realtime Ad Exchange – couldn’t avoid the wild spirit of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel (“I didn’t kidding. I just want you to see how sad it is. ”) In any case, these posts were mostly exotic tapas with lots of comfort food.

Franchises are at the heart of television programming. If you love the flood of superhero franchise poles that are coming out of Marvel and DC Comics, you’re going to love – at least you guess – the flood of programming franchises that fill prime-time television. NBC has of course been in the Dick Wolf business for a long time with decades of Law & Order including now Law and order: organized crime, and a whole Wednesday night of the Chicago franchise (PD / Fire / Med). Wolf has a schedule similar to CBS, with his three FBI shows taking over on Tuesday evening and joining the new editions of NCIS and CSI. Fox extends his 911 franchise. And the initial rookie Discovery has long been a franchise paradise in cable, with more editions of Gold Rush that I could count to join I believe 17 new shows of the Property brothers (I’m exaggerating). You can’t discuss the intrigues of these shows in the Hamptons, but you know how and why you are buying and selling advertising in all of it.

Even the novelties offer network executives and advertisers the comfort of familiarity. In Robert Altman’s fierce Hollywood satire The player each new speech had to evoke the work of the past in order to make it understood: “I understand, it is a cross between Outside of Africa and A pretty woman», Etc. NBC is rolling out Ordinary joe, apparently a mixture of It’s us with Nicolas Cage’s The man of the family (the profound impact of the choices we make in life, etc.). Fox Welcome to Flatch? A kind of cross between Office and Green acres. NBC The lost symbol looks exactly like something from Dan Brown. Oh wait that is something from Dan Brown.

Can television break the back of “ageism”?

Ageism appears to be the last acceptable form in the media industry. Advertisers have long paid much higher advertising prices to reach 18 to 49 year olds than anyone over 50 or especially 55. When I was at CNBC years ago (I was only a teenager of course), we commissioned an exclusive marketing study to support this thesis. to the agencies that it was crazy to ignore our viewers over 55 because they were the ones who had real purchasing power. And now, many years later, kudos to Jon Steinlauf and the Discovery team for pushing the same truth about value to be found in this audience. With declining birth rates in the United States and Europe, an aging population, and an aversion to advertising on the part of many young people, the time may finally have come for the not-so-old crowd to get some sex. love, respect and value of the advertising community. . And who better to enjoy the joys of a little comfort?


About Hannah Schaeffer

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