As the Upfront season winds to a close, press reports are heralding advertisers' return to network television, spurring both volume and cost-per-thousand increases. However, there are behind-the-scenes realities that tell a more complex story. When the press reports broadcast network Upfront increases, as the Wall St. Journal did last week based on data provided by Media Dynamics Inc., none of the realities I outline below are factored into the analysis. Yes, this year's Upfront picture appears to be more robust than the past few years. But in my opinion, the data as reported is highly unreliable. Trying to get an accurate apples-to-apples read on stand-alone broadcast network television advertising economics fails to reflect today's buying and selling dynamics.
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