The return of live sports, the ‘mixed bag’ of ad spend, and rethinking commercial loads (once again): Ad Age TV Pivot
Welcome to Day 2 of our special-edition Ad Age TV Pivot newsletter.
A message from Ad Age Senior Editor Jeanine Poggi: In our special two-day TV Pivot event, on Tuesday and Wednesday, Ad Age brought together sales leaders from media conglomerates, along with major marketers and media buyers, to discuss how they are navigating a world without live sports, the amount of business they expect to strike during the upfront ad haggle and what forms of innovation they hope will emerge during the pandemic.
You can catch up on anything you may have missed from Day 2 right here in our executive summary, courtesy of Ad Age’s Ethan Jakob Craft. And if you weren’t able to join us yesterday, take a look at what was discussed on Day 1.
What to expect in the third quarter
With the pandemic pressuring nearly every brand’s business, Ad Age asked key TV media players about what they are seeing as it relates to brands pulling back their third-quarter ad commitments. A sampling:
“We’re in an uncertain time and everyone’s businesses are challenged in all sorts of ways. We’re speaking to marketers, and there are some that need to take their inventory and give it back, but we plan for that every single year.”
— Laura Molen, co-president of advertising sales and partnerships, NBCUniversal
“I think our options are going to come in as we had expected, and that was pre-COVID. I think we’re tracking along the lines we had assumed.”
— Rob Tuck, executive VP of national sales, The CW Network
“I think ‘mixed bag’ is something we’re all going to say a bunch. We have people who are canceling, we have very few people firming up, and we have some who are doing sort of half.”
—Dani Benowitz, president, U.S., Magna Global
Read more industry insiders’ thoughts on third-quarter options here.
Upfront spending falls, scatter rises
When it comes to this year’s upfront ad commitments, according to a new study from Advertiser Perceptions, marketers are planning to spend 33 percent less this year amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Read more about the study’s findings here.
The return of live sports
Univision will become one of the first American networks to resume broadcasting live sports—in the form of German Bundesliga soccer games—starting this Saturday.
“We’re really looking forward to getting live soccer back on our air,” said Steve Mandala, president of ad sales and marketing for Univision Communications. (Watch his session starting at the 20:30 mark in the video archived here).
And Univision’s fútbol offerings may not be limited to the Bundesliga for long. Mexico’s top-tier La Liga, the highest-rated soccer league broadcast in the U.S., is mulling a July start date for its regular season.
And 'real' football, too
But all eyes will be on the NFL for the fall. While the league said it expects to kick off the season on Sept. 10, industry executives have been skittish. If the league isn’t able to move forward as planned, NBCUniversal’s Mark Marshall, co-president of advertising sales and partnerships, said that “There’s no perfect contingency plan for losing ‘Sunday Night Football’ for us.” (Watch his session with fellow co-president Laura Molen at the 1:35 mark in the video archived here.)
Meanwhile, in dealing with the postponement of the Olympics, NBC saw some marketers opt to roll over their ad buys to the 2021 Games, while others rescheduled to align with other periods around the would-be event, such as the back-to-school shopping season.
Read more about how NBCU is working with advertisers, preparing for the first post-coronavirus major league comeback, and filling the 17-day gap left by an absent Olympics here.
‘Never let a good crisis go to waste’
Some industry pros want the TV business to not just survive the coronavirus crisis, they’re asking it to thrive through innovation. “Do we look at this as a time we should change, or should we look at this as a time to keep doing what we’ve done in the past?,” NBCUniversal’s Marshall asked rhetorically, adding that the goal should be to take advantage of this moment to “scale the things we know have worked.”
Catherine Sullivan, chief investment officer for North America at Omnicom Media Group, thinks one major takeaway from the pandemic should be figuring out how the rise of streaming might transform linear TV.
“I think if linear networks, specifically as it pertains to entertainment, do not use this time to actually figure out what the correct commercial loads look like and what the correct formats for advertising look like,” she said, “I think you’re not even going to have prime in a few years.”
David Campanelli, exec VP and chief investment officer at Horizon Media, agrees. “I think what is happening now is only going to accelerate the streaming usage and OTT usage,” he said. “But if you’re just planning now on shifting to the streaming space, OTT space, you’ve missed the boat.”
(Watch Sullivan and Campanelli in the agency roundtable along with Magna Global’s Dani Benowitz at the 33:45 mark in the video archived here.)
That’s it for today’s edition of the Ad Age TV Pivot newsletter. We’ll be back tomorrow with a final installment, adding big-picture perspective to everything we learned during this week’s event.