Like most Americans, I am following the news of the upfronts with great interest. Oh. Right. Most Americans couldn’t care less about the upfronts. Most Americans don’t know what upfronts are. I even had to explain the concept to a 15-year veteran of the motion picture industry. In his defense, nothing in his job requires knowing the nuances of how television advertising is sold.
He just needed to know that big bucks spent on “spot” advertising were normal.
In many ways, the upfronts are the major networks’ ways of securing lines of credit for new programming. New shows and lineups are presented to the advertisers of the world. Said advertisers are supposed to, somehow, identify the shows that seem like good bets and commit dollars for future commercials. In theory, buying time early is a way to guarantee a good price. In practice, it’s just about impossible to tell in May how things will shake out in September in October.
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