Digital Platforms Might Ease Upfront Pain

Are things bad for TV networks? In March, they seem to be. Mega losses on the order of 25% to 30% declines in national TV advertising — stuff that made executives gasp.

And now? Christine
McCarthy, senior executive vice president-CFO of Walt Disney, speaking at a media conference recently is
expecting the worst: “The
overall market forecast for volume in the upfront was anticipated to be down about 20%. That’s a pretty big hit to the overall volume in the marketplace. But I will tell you that we anticipate
performing far better than than 20% down.”

She adds Disney has seen good response in digital and addressable advertising demand.

A year ago, industry estimates for upfront
advertising activities for Disney-ABC — and perhaps all related digital platforms — were an estimated $2.0 billion to $2.1 billion. So if Disney is going to perform better than a 20% decline, could
it be taking a modest 5% hit?

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Just to be clear, all this has nothing to do with anything related to Disney+ — an ad-free subscription service, which enjoys glowing reviews and rocketing
subscriber growth.

What one needs to consider is Hulu — and what it means to Disney going forward — including how it will figure into upfront packaging.

Earlier this year, Rita
Ferro, president of Disney Advertiser Sales, told Television News Daily it was merging a video advertising management platform with one at Hulu to be called Disney Hulu XP, launching October
1. There would be “one guarantee on the completion of video views covering all video views on any Disney platform.”

Now think more broadly: What do some major streaming platforms
— even with the uneven cross-platform measurement and other business outcome factors — now mean to growing services owned by legacy media companies?

Five premium streaming companies — Pluto
TV, Roku, Hulu, Tubi, and Peacock — pulled in an estimated $849 million in advertising revenues during the second quarter of 2020 — up 31% versus the year-ago time period, according to MoffettNathanson
Research.

Hulu pulled in the bulk of this total: $570 million in the second quarter. Many projections will near $2 billion for all of 2020.

How much of this could be sold in a
Disney-connected upfront TV market? That piece could be a major factor in where the big media company ends up.

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