While reporters, pundits and analysts have been commenting on the protracted nature of this year's network television Upfront market, the most notable difference between this and past years has been the silence. Until late last week, when CBS' Les Moonves broke the industry's self-imposed silence in his conference call with Wall Street analysts, both networks and agencies maintained a code of silence during the lengthy negotiating process. Last week, when there was finally some Upfront data available to report, Advertising Age chose to not publish at all. (Did you notice?) As my readers know, I have been arguing for years that negotiating in the press was unhealthy and unproductive. This year the industry got the message. Although many believe this year's drawn out process signifies dramatic and sustaining changes in the Upfront market, in fact the Upfront turned out to be a reasonably traditional process with predictable results. In this week's report, I outline the reported performance of broadcast and cable networks and explain some of the dynamics that reinforce misleading perceptions of Upfront results. Plus I review the economics that suggest cable network Upfront investments could have exceeded broadcast network spending for the first time in history, but why available information is so misleading and inconsistent no one may ever really know.
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Jack Myers consults with media, agencies and marketers on transformative business models and revenue growth strategies. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.