It's been a week since all the hoopla of Upfront Week here in New York. (Now we're on to Fleet Week, with dozens of warships and thousands of sailors visiting.)
The presentations by the networks, along with the parties and the celebrities, are behind us. The prognosticators have been writing about which net gave the best party and, more importantly, which new shows they think will sink or swim.
But the most significant thing to come out of Upfront Week is the expected gain in upfront ad sales the nets expect to see this year. I'm seeing estimates that put the gain in ad sales at anywhere between $600 million and $1 billion. That could be a jump of nearly 12 percent from last year's $8.5 billion upfront ad sales, and it could match or exceed the high of $9.2 billion that was reached in the 2008-2009 upfront market.
Steve Farella, who heads media agency TargetCast tcm (a Reich Communications client for three years), admits in a New York Times story that it's amazing that in this still-weak economy, the network TV business remains so strong.
For years, the network sales execs have been successful in using the upfront to create a stampede to lock in network ad time. It's worked in the networks' favor year after year, even as some buyers like friend and former longtime client, the late Gene DeWitt, called for an end to the process, urging fellow buyers to bypass the upfront.
But a boycott never happened. No agency exec wants to get locked out or possibly (emphasis is on "possibly" here) end up having to buy time at higher prices in the scatter market once the season has begu and some shows emerge as hits.
So it continues -- the hype and the stampede that follows. It continues even as network viewership erodes and more of those who still do watch can zip past the ads with their TiVo or DVR.
It just proves that even as more of us get our information and entertainment from a variety of sources and screens, big programming on the networks can still pull large live audiences, and it can still create buzz around the water cooler the next day.
So it seems, despite the naysayers and the distractions of other media -- mostly online -- TV is still king.