Skip to main content

Screen Wars Thought Leader Interviews are also available on

SpotifyApple PodcastGoogle Podcast
State of the Screens

From PepsiCo to GM, Big Advertisers Set to Cancel Commitments to TV Networks

By May 21, 2020No Comments

Big news: Major advertisers are now able to cancel up to 50% of their Q3  upfront commitments.

What are the upfronts?  The upfronts are an annual event where the networks showcase their planned programming for the upcoming season.  Advertisers purchase advertising “upfront” at a negotiated price versus later in the scatter market, which can cost 6%+ more.

Advertisers considering cancelations include:
2) General Motors
3) General Mills

Big question #1: Will these cancelations surpass the $1.0B – $1.5B that the Wall Street Journal story predicts?

Big question #2: How much money will advertisers hold back from the 2020-21 upfront?

TBT: The 2009-10 upfronts were down 13% YoY, according to Media Dynamics.

Upfront ad spend by year (% growth YoY) according to eMarketer:
1) 2008-09 – $16.8B ( 1%)
2) 2009-10 – $14.7B ( 13%)
3) 2010-11 – $16.6B ( 13%)
4) 2011-12 – $17.9B ( 8%)
5) 2012-13 – $18.7B ( 4%)
6) 2013-14 – $19.2B ( 3%)
7) 2014-15 – $18.4B ( 4%)
8) 2015-16 – $17.8B ( 3%)
9) 2016-17 – $18.6B ( 5%)
10) 2017-18 – $19.7B ( 6%)
11) 2018-19 – $20.8B ( 5%)
12) 2019-20 – $21.3B ( 2%)
13) 2020-21 – $21.6B ( 2%)

Share of national TV ad revenue sold at the upfronts:
Normal – 70%
Anticipated – 40%

Why this matters #1: If the above holds, then there would be ≈ 2X the normal amount of national TV inventory in the scatter market.

Why this matters #2: Additional inventory going to the scatter market means additional inventory that advanced TV targeting can be applied to.  This would bring in new advertisers beyond the ≈ 4K who typically buy national TV advertising each year.

Flashback: As TV Industry’s $20 Billion Week Starts, Signs That Streaming Isn’t King Yet

Video #1: Axios’ Fischer: Advertisers are holding off on committing dollars to the big TV networks

Video #2: Horizon CEO on managing through a crisis and the state of the TV upfronts

More #1: This Would Have Been Upfront Week, If Not For COVID

More #2: COVID-19 Will Forever Reshape The Upfront

More #3: The TV upfronts will never be the same again

Michael Beach

Michael Beach

Michael Beach is the Chief Executive Officer of Cross Screen Media, a media analytics and software company that enables marketers to plan, activate, and measure CTV and linear TV at the local level. Michael is also the founder and editor of State of the Screens, a weekly newsletter focused on video advertising that is a must-read for thought leaders in the advertising industry. He has appeared in such publications as PBS Frontline, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Axios, CNBC and Bloomberg, and on NPR’s Planet Money podcast.

Leave a Reply