Ad Age's Media Predictions 2016

From TV Measurement to Univision to Fantasy Sports and More

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Expect the Spanish-language media giant to file an IPO in 2016. Photo courtesy of Univision Communications Inc.
Expect the Spanish-language media giant to file an IPO in 2016. Photo courtesy of Univision Communications Inc.

Univision Goes Public
Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications is likely to finally make an initial public offering this year, after filing another preliminary prospectus in late December. The company was expected to launch its IPO late last year, but reportedly held off because of lackluster performance by media stocks. Univision was bought in 2007 by private-equity investors who have been looking for an exit for years. –Laurel Wentz

TV Measurement Will Continue to Irk the Industry
The entire industry is waiting with bated breath for Nielsen's Total Audience Measurement, which promises to measure viewers across all platforms. Nielsen has said it will introduce the tool early this year, but there's skepticism it will come in time to be useful during this year's upfront ad haggle. Even if the tool drops according to Nielsen's timeline, any real impact on accounting for viewership declines in 2016 is doubtful. There will certainly be glitches to work out, which everyone will complain about and it will take time to test. But one thing is certain: Measurement will continue to be top of mind in the New Year, as the industry attempts to agree on a new currency and awaits the first move coming out the Rentrak-ComScore merger. –Jeanine Poggi

The Value of Uniqueness
Digital publishers will start to finally realize the need to differentiate themselves from their competitors. While small and regional newspapers continue to close around the country, new digital outlets, many based in New York, are still popping up at a healthy rate. But few of these sites can actually articulate their plans for standing out, both to prospective readers and, perhaps more important for their long-term viability, to prospective advertisers. At the end of the day, market forces are likely to force the hand of those publishers that are seeing their traffic dip. That being said, Business Insider's $442 million sale valuation might convince other publishers that general interest is the way to go—a risky bet. –Jeremy Barr

So Long, Fantasy Sports
The daily fantasy sports gusher will run dry as state attorneys general fight to put FanDuel and DraftKings out of business. Together, the two sites in 2015 spent an estimated $300 million on national TV advertising, with the vast majority of that windfall landing at NFL broadcast partners CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN. And while ad sales execs were happy to book all those dollars, they also understood that last year's extravagant investment in airtime was likely a one-shot deal. But even if the category gets legislated out of existence, it's not as if the networks will be left holding the bag. Look for the classic sports endemics such as autos, beer and insurance to step up their spend in the new year. –Anthony Crupi

You Won't Watch Reality TV in Virtual Reality
Remember 3-D TV? Exactly. Despite the overhyped introduction of 3D TV in 2010, including the launch of ESPN 3D (which has since shuttered), it is unlikely viewers will be watching their favorite shows in virtual reality in the near future, if ever. One of the biggest obstacles for 3-D TV—getting people to don glasses while watching—poses the same issues for virtual reality. –Jeanine Poggi

Traffic Won't Be King
The media industry has a love-ignore relationship with digital traffic: Publishers love to promote their numbers when they're growing; they tend to forget about them when they don't present a good narrative for the company's path forward.

In 2016, the industry's focus on traffic as the best measure of digital success and potential profitability will continue to fade. For one thing, it's still not clear that big traffic means big money. As CPMs decline, readers by the million don't mean much when they aren't loyal nor willing to pay to keep reading. There are also persistent questions about the quality and fairness of the metrics used to determine traffic tallies. The gap between the public numbers released by companies like ComScore and the internal traffic figures publications claim is often too large to be credible. And then there's the question of distributed publishing: When so many publishers are focusing their resources on non-traffic-generating platforms like Snapchat, what good are unique visitor counts anyway? –Jeremy Barr

CBS and NFL Make a Pact
Before Super Bowl 50 kicks off in Santa Clara, Calif., on Feb. 7, look for CBS and the NFL to announce another one-year renewal of the "Thursday Night Football" package. CBS is pleased with the 4% ratings lift it saw in its second season of "TNF," as the eight games averaged 17.5 million viewers and a 10.8 household rating, making it the second-highest-rated primetime program, behind only NBC's "Sunday Night Football." A short-term deal keeps those GRPs in CBS's pocket for another season while giving the league a little breathing room to deal with the anticipated migration of two franchises to Los Angeles. –Anthony Crupi

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