Calling 2007 a transitional year, Mr. Poltrack said he expects the "unsettled" marketplace of 2006 to become more defined, as the upfront shifts from program audience to commercial audience as a basis for buying and selling ads. While the switch is only probable, he said he has faith in Nielsen's ability to track commercial minutes actually viewed by the consumer, as opposed to those being skipped during commercial-time channel surfing and fast-forwarded when programs are watched via DVR.
Mr. Poltrack said discussions on the topic suggest commercial-audience value will be based on average commercial minutes; mixed program and commercial content will be weighted according to the percentage of the program that is commercial-based; and Nielsen will provide audience data for live-only viewing, live-plus-same-day playback, live-plus-seven-day playback and possibly live-plus-three-or-four-day playback. CBS's official position is that the switch must happen, in part so it can be paid for the 7% of its audience viewing commercials via DVR, which was not accounted for in the 2006 upfront.
Combine the measurement switch with the Beijing Olympics and presidential election in 2008, and there's every reason to believe the next upfront will be a healthy one, Mr. Poltrack told analysts.
While TV viewing now is limited by the amount of time consumers spend at home, Mr. Poltrack said he hopes to see revenue grow beyond 2007 as mobile distribution and video on demand continue to grow in popularity.
In the long-term, Mr. Poltrack also expects broadband-internet distribution to open up new ad markets while keeping viewers engaged during series' winter and summer hiatuses. And, as the 2009 switch-over date nears, he expects the viewer conversion rate to HDTV to increase and "enhance TV as an in-home entertainment medium."