Score one for the broadcast networks: The new fall season, now in its third official week, is already producing hits like ABC’s Lost and Desperate Housewives and CBS’ CSI: N.Y. Strong ratings help the broadcasters’ answer arguments from media buyers and advertisers that broadcast ad pricing is out of control.
Given the performance so far this fall, media buyers are giving broadcast its due.
“CBS is doing fabulous, ABC is picking up, NBC is holding its own and UPN and the WB are doing fine,” says Global Chairman and CEO Bill Cella. “Network TV is still a huge reach medium.”
“Every network has a show people are talking about at work,” added Jon Mandel, chairman and chief global buying officer for MediaCom U.S. “That is good for business.”
Mandel and Cella joined two other top media buyers -- Zenith U.S.A. President of Broadcast Peggy Green and OMD U.S. Managing Director Ray Warren -- Tuesday in New York at an International Radio & Television Society breakfast moderated by Sanford Bernstein & Co. media analyst Tom Wolzien.
But the buyers were not universally upbeat on the current advertising climate.
“The market is quiet and it hurts everyone. If we’re not spending money, we’re not making money,” Cella said. Pharmaceutical, automotive, and DVD and entertainment money, they said, have helped, but the ad market is still reeling from a 2001 downturn, making it the slowest recovery since 1960, according to Wolzien.
“There is still a hangover,” Warren says. To generate new business, the buyers said, clients need to combine TV advertising with more innovative creative and media planning, like product placement deals and new media.
Another hot topic: personal video recorders like Tivo. PVRs are threatening to advertisers because viewers can eliminate commercials entirely.
But the four buyers downplayed the Tivo problem. Mandel noted that consumers have been flipping away from commercials ever since they got remote controls.
“We’ve been getting screwed, we just didn’t know it,” he said, adding PVRs, “will force planners to be more aware.”