Upfront Notebook: Buyers Back Fox on Digital Numbers

Homer Simpson’s view of the TV landscape

Fox took aim at broadcast’s current threat, digital video, and media buyers agreed with the network’s contention that online viewing numbers don’t add up.

During Fox’s upfront presentation, ad sales president Toby Byrne looked at a published comparison of a World Series game and a video from a YouTube star that show both with an audience reach of about 14 million views.

“In truth, only one does, and it’s not the YouTube video with an average audience of 1,620,” Byrne said. Average audience is a metric being promoted by the Video Ad Bureau to make TV and online video more comparable.

“So flipping it the other way, using YouTube’s math that World Series game would translate to 6.8 billion views. That makes the World Series a bargain and it’s pretty absurd,” Byrne said.

“The number of views sounds impressive, but not premium video can’t hold a candle to TV’s scale and engaged audience,” he said. “It’s been proven that our brand of television triggers a deep emotional connection, which leads to action. So an engrossing show like Empire delivers more than double the average in ad receptivity.”

Byrne also touted the engagement in video on demand, noting that Fox’s on demand platforms disable fast-forward, eliminating ad skipping. He said VOD, viewing on apps and Hulu deliver 28% of Fox’s entertainment viewing.  

Buyers noted that the statistics that digital video companies use are often confusing to clients and they applauded efforts to make comparing TV to digital video more of an apples to apples comparison.

They also thought that Fox did a good job of presenting its new content.

Chris Geraci, president of national broadcast at OMD, said it looked like the new versions of 24 and Prison Break would do a good job of living up to the originals.

During its presentation, Fox entertainment heads Gary Newman and Dana Walden also offered some words of wisdom from someone who has been around broadcast television for 600 episodes, Homer J.  Simpson.

Here’s what Homer had to say:

“Thank you Dana and Gary. I recorded this two months ago, so I assume you still have your jobs.  But if it’s just one of you, please know that I always thought that you were the smartest and best looking, and you bet I told James and Lachlan [Murdoch] so many times.

“For thousands of years, ad-supported television has been the backbone of civilization. But that monolith has come under fire from a surprising new rival, good television. Rest assured Fox is up to the challenge. This year they had huge successes like Grease Live and the west-coast feed of Grease Live. They responded to the challenge of ratings by stopping the release of ratings.  They had the number one show in Empire and the number one network, if you don’t count the walking zombies who comprise CBS’ audience. I’d make a joke about NBC, but I don’t think they’re on anymore. As for Netflix and Amazon, these are tiny companies that will never be heard from again.

“Now back to Gary and Dana, the latest at Fox to benefit from a Simpsons lead in. They will show you clips from brand-new Fox shows. Let’s hope they didn’t save the good ones for ABC this time.”