The Writers Guild of America strike during Upfront Week caused a lack of star power, leaving presenter networks without the ability to sell primetime ad units with celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Jared Leto, Kerry Washington, and Dolly Parton. This year’s presentation has the feel of a 1987 NFL replacement, featuring a roster of substitutes. Despite this setback, network stations went all out for live sports coverage, with Fox showcasing nearly a third of its 45-minute presentation on sports programming.
Disney’s presentation also contained sports-focused content, highlighting the importance of sports sponsorship and ABC’s reliance on sports and news programming. The fall broadcast schedule is full of competing series and omissions, with network TV’s inability to come up with original ideas since the departure of Lost in 2004. Rather than sighing with resignation, in the absence of Hollywood movies and teaser reels, the stations went all-out with live sports coverage.
With the general economic downturn in US ad spending, sports pricing continues to rise to record interest rates. Geico’s total ad spend fell 38% in 2022, when Progressive, State Farm, and Allstate also pulled out of their own media investments, resulting in long-term contracts in sports. Meanwhile, the major digital disruptors are expected to sell out of their sports inventory.
The fall broadcast schedule is full of competing series and omissions, with network TV’s inability to come up with original ideas since the departure of Lost in 2004. Despite this, CBS has continued with scripted fares, and Paramount’s CFO noted that the sports ad market “continues to perform well,” with spending on pharmaceuticals, travel, and autos.
NBC spent the least amount of time on sports-related content during Upfront Week, with only four minutes devoted to sports. However, the biggest news of Upfront Week came from NBC’s Monday morning sales platform, which announced a $110 million deal to block Peacock’s Amazon from gaining exclusive rights to the 2024 NFL Wildcard game.
Despite the uncertainty of schedules for the rest of the fall, the major digital disruptors are expected to sell out of their sports inventory, failing to inspire confidence in advertisers looking for inventory. Cheaper streaming options like Netflix without sports are becoming more popular, as co-CEO Ted Sarandos boasts that the most important 18-49 demo has “migrated” from linear TV.