Who’s most impacted?
The first buyer said they see linear pricing declines of as much as 30%, excluding sports, and that some clients have pulled out of investing in primetime slots altogether due to declining ratings. The buyer said digital pricing is also down, but by about high single-digit percentages.
In past years, the percentage decline in linear TV investment was an easy indicator of how much of the video budgets were shifting to digital, said a fourth buyer. This year won’t be as clean cut, as some of the decline will be due to overall budget reductions rather than reallocations. As upfront negotiations are still in progress, the buyer said it will be difficult to determine exact numbers until “the dust settles on the upfront.”
The holdouts for linear TV are sports and live events, which still manage to attract mass audiences. This year’s Super Bowl totaled 115 million viewers. Next year’s Big Game, which will air on CBS, is “selling very well,” the fourth buyer said. This is only notable because the game is holding up well in such a soft market, the buyer said. Two other buyers said the 2024 game is as much as 50% sold out.
CBS owner Paramount declined to comment on current Super Bowl sales.
Buyers expect the 2024 Olympics, which NBCUniversal has highlighted in its upfront and is centering its Cannes presence around, to perform similarly well, especially as live events are safe from uncertainties presented by the ongoing writers’ strike.
A fifth buyer said digital video, particularly streaming, will see larger declines in pricing because of unsustainable inflation over the past few years that is expected to reverse possibly by double-digit percentages as streaming inventory grows.
But with some advertisers looking to hedge their bets against further economic volatility, high streaming CPMs may drive dollars toward YouTube, according to the third buyer. Multiple sources put YouTube CPMs, or the cost to reach 1,000 viewers, $5 to $10 lower than major media streamers such as Disney+ or Max. The third buyer said YouTube has been aggressive in seeking ad dollars from TV budgets specifically, rather than social or digital budgets.
YouTube pricing is “exactly where it should be,” said the buyer. “The other guys, the Peacocks and Hulus of the world—they were where they should be a while ago and then they’ve just crept up and crept up and crept up.”
However, the first buyer said direct buys with YouTube remain less desirable to some clients looking for the “premiumness” of shows on the TV streamers. Additionally, some clients prefer to buy YouTube through third-party sellers, such as connected TV players Vizio, Samsung or Roku, or through major media companies including NBCU, which controls advertising against its content on the platform. The buyer said they hadn’t heard from YouTube about sales for NFL Sunday Ticket but they didn’t expect that to make a consequential difference.