TV has peaked just like the magazine industry did, and TV ad executives refuse to accept it
Category : entrepreneur
- TV advertising has peaked, argues Mike Shields, the former advertising editor for Business Insider who is now the CEO of Shields Strategic Consulting.
- According to eMarketer, the $70 billion-plus ad market is going to start looking like a $68 billion market.
- While these numbers are still significant, it’s becoming more and more clear that TV ad executives need to see that the industry’s going downhill — especially with the growth of streaming.
- “People inside the magazine world didn’t see the party about to crash then, and TV people don’t seem to see it now,” writes Shields.
- Click here for more BI Prime stories.
The TV advertising party is over. Somebody needs to tell TV.
Confused? See if you can resolve these two sets of statements:
First this one: “The reality is — viewership is at an all time high … we’re coming off an an upfront marketplace season that was record breaking again. Record breaking in many ways. It was a watershed moment.”
Then this one:
“US TV ad spending will drop almost 3% this year, and a 1.0% bump in 2020 from the presidential election and Summer Olympics will not stave off a long-term decline for ad spending … TV ad spending peaked in 2018.”
The first set of quotes comes from NBCU sales chief Linda Yaccarino, who spoke last month on Variety’s Strictly Business podcast.
The second group was from eMarketer as part of a bleak report on the TV ad business released earlier this week that didn’t get nearly enough attention.
We in the ad business like to throw around the possibility that X company or companies are trying to capture the “$70 billion ad market.” We’re going to have to soon start saying the “$68 billion market.” Because that’s where eMarketer pegs TV ad landing in just a few years.
Essentially, eMarketer says that TV advertising has reached its zenith — and it’s never going back up.
Oh by the way, there’s a reason why that report didn’t get as much attention as it should: Disney+ landed an astonishing 10 million subscribers in a day!
Trials, discounted three-year deals, etc. However that happened, that’s 10 million households with another bazillion hours of ad-free content at their fingertips.
Meanwhile, TV ad executives are spinning stories about how viewership is better than ever, it’s just shifted. If only we could measure it. And don’t worry, we’re investing in data and tech.
But instead of getting unified and building a true platform for the future of TV advertising (one that’s a lot smaller, most likely), TV ad companies are building committees, consortiums, and mini walled gardens — while the ground shifts beneath their feet.
Remember, this is all happening during a robust economy. People in web video like to joke that we’re one recession away from TV advertising falling off a cliff. Think about what happened to newspapers, they say.
The joke’s getting less funny by the day — but the analogy may be off.
To me, TV feels a lot like the magazine business around 2007 (newspapers never got fat like TV and magazines did). I remember that year I got to take my wife for a cruise on the Forbes yacht. People were getting helicopter rides. Back then, companies like Time Inc. were still launching new magazines. Sure, a recession might hurt, but this was a great business.
Now Forbes is mostly contributors. There’s no yacht anymore. There’s no Time Inc. anymore.
People inside the magazine world didn’t see the party about to crash then, and TV people don’t seem to see it now.
“There is no doubt that the Olympics in Tokyo will be the most viewed event in television history,” said Yaccarino. “History.”
Are we sure about this? I love the Olympics as much as the next guy, but I’m going to be streaming “The Mandalorian” or whatever Marvel show shows up on Disney+ next summer (OK, maybe not the Hawkeye one).
NBCU will say that the Olympics will air 7,100 hours of competition. So technically, Yaccarino will likely be correct. But here’s betting that linear Olympic ratings won’t be a great story for a TV business that needs good stories.
Sure, you can tell me all day long about network shows like “This Is Us” doubling their ratings from DVR playback and the like. Then read Ad Age’s deep take on why that’s a fallacy.
Or you can tell me how way more people watch “Judge Judy” in an average minute versus three months of Twitch or whatever. But you just have to open your eyes and look at the big picture.
“The live TV model for entertainment programming is being displaced by SVOD and AVOD,” wrote MoffettNathanson Research in a report earlier this week. It’s really as simple as that.
OK, so what about all of the new ways you can buy data-driven TV just like digital? Won’t that absorb all of the TV ad money and reinvigorate the industry?
Sounds great. Until you consider that right now, to buy either addressable TV, or OTT, you can go to dozens of networks directly, or AT&T’s Xandr, or OpenAP, or Comcast’s FreeWheel, Comcast Drive, or Project OAR, or Roku, or Amazon, or Ampersand, or Telaria, or Viacom Vantage and Discovery Ignite, or NBCUx, or whatever I’m not thinking of.
If you follow where ad dollars are flowing these days, modern ad markets are driven by simplicity, concentrated audiences, and automation. Money moves when it’s easy. Just ask Facebook and Google.