Having survived the sensory overload of the Upfront presentations in New York, Stacey Lynn Schulman, EVP of strategy, analytics and research for Katz Media Group, gave us her impressions of what’s in store for the next TV season. First off, she thinks advertisers will increase spending on television—“if for no other reason than there is some healthy skepticism around the validity and reliability of digital data.”
Advertisers, she says, are concerned about whether what they buy is what they actually get in the digital world. “If broadcast television played by the measurement standards as what the digital landscape has proposed, I think we would be laughed out of the negotiation,” Schulman said. “If we tried to say, look, as long as your commercial is on for three seconds and you see 50% of the image it’s going to count, I don’t know any television advertiser who would say that was OK,” she said with a chuckle.
The Upfronts were originally about the broadcast TV networks and then expanded to cable networks as well, but now it seems every type of media is trying to get in on the action. There are Upfront events for digital, radio, outdoor—you name it. But Schulman doesn’t think they’ll ever have the same importance. “The Upfronts exist because there is scarcity in the network television space. It is the place where you can get audiences all at once—it’s a large, broad-based reach audience…and it is a scarce resource. There is no scarcity in digital media,” she noted. So while it’s interesting that the digital players want to parade their wares at the same time as TV, Schulman says there’s no need for advertisers to get in early with their money on the digital side.
On the programming side, we wanted to know what blew her away for next season. Schulman hesitated to say that anything she saw is a sure hit, but she said there are some which have the potential to break away as hits. “The Jane Lynch comedy Angel from Hell on CBS has that potential in terms of all the comedies that we saw. It’s just different and has a different sensibility,” Schulman said. She also pointed to Minority Report on FOX, the first TV drama from Steven Spielberg, Limitless on CBS and Scream Queens on FOX as new series that might turn into hits. “The Neil Patrick Harris Best Time vehicle could surprise us…it’s live, it’s different, it has potential to draw in younger viewers, which is really important to broadcast television—and it’s unpredictable,” she said of the series coming to NBC, which has been using live programming as a way to draw viewers to linear television.