A+E Networks finds a 'plus' in its lack of streaming service to sell to advertisers
With no streaming service to sell to advertisers during this year’s upfront ad haggle, A+E Networks will stick to the tried and true–selling linear TV.
“As our competition is deciding where to premiere all of their content, it is becoming messy in terms of price structure,” says Peter Olsen, exec VP, ad sales, A+E Networks. “We still believe we have an advantage in the short term in the simplicity in our model. There is still a tremendous amount of demand for traditional TV. The marketplace is caught in a transition period and we are taking a pretty good route to take it methodically.”
Much of the conversation in this year’s upfronts is expected to center around the streaming wars, with nearly every TV giant out in the marketplace with a streaming platform to sell to brands who are eager to follow viewers to new screens.
Olsen isn’t concerned about the company not having a rival to Peacock, HBO Max and Discovery+. “We don’t believe it is a minus,” he says, noting how the company has taken a different approach. “We still believe in our primary conduits and then partnering with all of those products.”
Of course, A+E heads into the upfront selling season with linear TV at the center of its proposition as ratings continue to erode. The network group saw a more than 31% decline in commercial ratings in the three days after a program airs across all of its channels season-to-date.
To combat this, last month A+E announced it would push media agencies and their clients to strike deals that include audiences over the age of 55, which are typically excluded from traditional demographic buys.
While A+E might not have a streaming service of its own, it has inked significant licensing deals with NBCUniversal’s Peacock and Discovery’s streaming service to allow them to air some of its popular programming. In many of these instances Olsen says A+E has retained the rights to sell ads for the content, Olsen says.
Olsen argues that there currently are more targeted TV products in the marketplace than there is demand. Olsen believes it will ultimately be a more traditional upfront cycle that includes some incremental advancements in things such as audience buying, measurement and advance analytics.
“We believe in original content, linear first and very distinct windowing strategy,” Olsen says.
The goal is for this tactic is to help the cable programmer increase its exposure through many different channels rather than just through its own product, he says.
A+E will make its pitch to advertisers -- virtually -- this afternoon, announcing more than 2,500 hours of new programming that boast a roster of celebrity talent including Janet Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Lee Curtis, Angela Basset, Tim Allen, Morgan Freeman, Rachael Ray, William Shatner and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.