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The TV Upfronts and Billions of Ad Dollars

A couple of us here at Coaches Hot Seat have been in New York this week for the Network TV Upfronts presentations looking for some decent television programs for our clients to advertise on.  If there is one word that permeates everything here at the Upfronts it is FEAR!  The network executives are scared, because viewers are abandoning network TV by the millions, and they haven’t a clue what to do to get those viewers back.  The fear is so pervasive among the Network Boys/Girls that it reminded us of what the Vietcong must have been thinking when they heard Air Cav coming over the horizon in the movie Apocalypse Now.  (Of course, in one of the great performances of his career, Robert Duvall plays the clearly out of his mind Lt. Colonel Bill Kilgore, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” in this great movie produced and directed by the Bay area’s own, Francis Ford Coppola.)  Yes, the Network Boys/Girls are the Vietcong and Air Cav is the American people telling the Network Boys/Girls that we are not going to watch this crap anymore.  There are a lot of reasons that the networks have been putting out such a large amount of garbage in recent years, but the main one is that the toppers at the Networks have never been more removed or separated from the average American.  In the past 20 years America has been moving into two different classes, the upper middle/upper class and the lower class, with the middle class going the way of the rotary dial telephone.  Among the upper middle/upper class there is another class of people, roughly 1/10th of 1 percent of the nation that lives in a fantasyland of private jets, reside in the wealthy neighborhoods of Los Angeles and New York, and take annual trips to Aspen, the Caribbean, Europe and other luxury destinations.  All of the men and women that are running broadcast networks live in this rarefied world that most Americans can only dream about, and that is why the Network Boys/Girls failure rate for new television programs is about 95%.  The Networks Boys/Girls can get away with this amazing failure rate because they know they can pick up another job quickly in the TV industry once they get canned for picking up shows like “Viva Laughlin.”  We don’t see the massive separation between the elitists running the networks and the American people changing anytime soon, which is actually very good news for companies doing business on the Internet.

One thing that is being discussed behind the scenes of the TV Upfronts among the people that represent companies that currently do billions of dollars of advertising, is that television is killing itself with stupidity.  General Motors is moving half of its $3.0 billion dollar advertising budget online over the next couple of years, and the current chaos and fragmentation of television provides a terrific opening for Internet media companies/newspapers that are ready to take advantage of this opportunity.  Newspapers, especially the one’s that have been slow to put together a first-rate Internet site are going to find they will miss out on a lot of the advertising dollars that will flow to the ‘Net in the next five years.  The best websites in each city, state, and in a game like college football will find themselves in the strongest positions in the very near future.  We here at Coaches Hot Seat look at several thousand newspaper/media stories each day and by our estimate about half of the newspaper Internet sites are not moving quickly enough to embrace the very large change that is coming to online media in the very near future.  On the other hand, there are dozens of college football Internet websites that are going to be in a very good position to capture the billions of dollars of advertising that is headed online.  In just an informal poll at the TV Upfronts of other advertising execs, we are guessing that somewhere on the order of $50 billion dollars will be moving from television to online advertising in the coming years.  Throw in another $30 billion or so that newspapers will lose from their print editions in the next 10 years, and you are talking about some real money, and some great opportunties for companies that are fully embracing the Internet.  The companies that are in the strongest positions in their particular niche’ will find that not only will the ad dollars flow their way, online ad rates will begin to increase as well.

With TV headed towards a very fragmented future (Check out some of the great posts at www.tvbythenumbers.com on TV ratings of years past compared to today) that will make it increasingly hard for large advertisers to reach large groups of people through television programs, the Internet sites and the best media/newspaper companies are going to find themselves in very strong positions to take advantage of this massive shift in how advertising dollars are spent.  We here at Coaches Hot Seat believe that edited news and columnists stating their unvarnished opinions on the issues of the day are important to the game of college football and to the healthy functioning of our Republic.  It would be a shame if the newspapers that have reported the news and have helped to shape the debate in their communities and in our country find themselves out of business because they did not adapt quickly enough to the reality of the new media world.  Publishers and editors need to be preparing their companies and employees right now for this new media world that is roaring down the tracks with nothing in its way, because the opportunities to emerge at the end of this ride as a much stronger company are certainly there, but only if they follow the advice of Dwight D. Eisenhower:

“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.”

Too bad the BCS Boys have tied themselves down to the railroad tracks with the bogus BCS!  Talk about getting run over by the future!
The BCS Boys in action:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eQePGO6Zt4&feature=related

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