Media Diary: The Upfronts, NewFronts and 'Happyish'

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Steve Coogan in TV's latest take on advertising, Showtime's 'Happyish'
Steve Coogan in TV's latest take on advertising, Showtime's 'Happyish'

Media buyers and marketers are making the rounds of cable networks and digital video publishers, TV powers are beginning a whole new court battle and a very different take on the world of "Mad Men" is cursing up a storm on Showtime. Take a peek into our reporters' notebooks.

TV's Lost Generation
If you could get past all the vocal fry and uptalking, Carly Aquilino had a few salient points to make about Nielsen's ongoing measurement crisis. Addressing a throng of media buyers at MTV's upfront presentation in Manhattan's Beacon Theatre, the "Girl Code" star had this to say about TV's new Lost Generation: "That old measuring system that the industry uses doesn't even come close to measuring everything that the MTV fans watch. It doesn't understand what a tablet is or how to watch something on a phone. If it did, MTV would be, like, No. 1 times infinity, because that's how our fans consume content: on their phones, on their toilets." Younger buyers responded to Ms. Aquilino's spirited rant with a chorus of woots! that momentarily made the venue sound like an owl preserve. -A.C.

"My name is Thomas Payne and I work for Satan. I've worked for the Dark Lord for 20 years now, and so I say this with a fair degree of authority: Fuck 'Mad Men.' There's nothing cool about advertising; there's nothing interesting. We do the same thing that everyone else in the world does these days -- we kiss the zit-covered asses of arrogant, know-nothing teenagers. It's 'Lord of the Flies' out there, folks, and everyone over 18 is Piggy." — Beleaguered, blasphemous adman Thomas Payne (Steve Coogan), in the series premiere of Showtime's comedy "Happyish"

Will CBS Win the Upfronts?
While clients have yet to register their TV budgets with media agencies, at least one Wall Street watcher has begun mapping out the contours of this year's upfronts market. Nomura analyst Anthony DiClemente told investors in a research note that broadcast volume could be up 3% vs. last year's bazaar, with clients committing as much as $8.61 billion. Per Nomura's modeling, CBS looks to be the big winner this spring, with a shot at raking in some $2.7 billion in advance sales -- an increase of 10% vs. last year's $2.45 billion. ABC could command as much as $2.15 billion in upfront sales, up 7% from an estimated $2 billion, while NBC is expected to be flat at $2.31 billion. Meanwhile, Fox could stand to lose out on some $250 million, as Nomura projects it will book a 13-year low $1.45 billion. -A.C.

Marissa Mayer.
Marissa Mayer. Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Making Yahoo a Must-Buy
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is talking up Yahoo video's appeal to millennials -- easily the Digital Content NewFronts' most frequently used term so far (unless it's "premium content"). "These are all items that are really focused on that demographic," she said in a sit-down with Ad Age before her presentation Monday at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in Manhattan. Yahoo's millennial-seeking new shows include "The Pursuit," which it describes as "Friends" for the 21st century, and "Ultimate DJ," a reality competition about EDM DJs. -T.P.

Daypart Demolition
AOL is arguing the time of day when programming runs -- such as prime time or morning -- shouldn't matter to advertisers as much as its length. "Formats are the new dayparts," Dermot McCormack, AOL's president of video and studios, told Ad Age before the company's NewFronts pitch at 4 World Trade Center in Manhattan last Tuesday. "People are not really living by the TV schedule." AOL's new slate runs from TV-style series suited for couch viewing to short clips ideal for the Starbucks line. -T.P.

Semper Fios?
In a bid to prevent Verizon's Fios TV service from including it on a slimmed-down package of channel bundles, ESPN last week filed suit against the operator. It was a real "Can you hear me now?" moment for Verizon, which had hoped to steal share from rival TV distributors with its new à la carte lite offering. While terms of ESPN's carriage agreements are not publicly disclosed, it would appear Verizon may have violated a threshold-limit provision that calls for the sports network to be available in at least 80% to 90% of Fios TV households. "We still can't figure out what Verizon's end game is here," MoffettNathanson Research analyst Michael Nathanson said in a note. "For one … we are not sure what is gained from going to war with their largest content providers." NBC Universal and 21st Century Fox have also protested. -A.C.

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