I've watched with interest the last several months as Upfront positioning among buyers and sellers has unfolded. Plenty of issues to address, both legacy and COVID-19 related. Flexibility regarding quarterly options is clearly a burning issue as we approach negotiations. My recent work with a TV-based media company had me engaging with the buying community as the COVID crisis deepened. When many clients asked for relief of their TV commitments, conversations between networks and agencies grew less cordial. Some brand categories were easy for networks to grant relief to, given their exposure. Sellers believed other categories were using the crisis to re-capture committed dollars, and to re-direct some of those dollars down the purchase funnel closer to online sales, where the action would increasingly be. Were the sellers right? I don't know, but the same brands demanding "relief" from TV networks were still running ads on digital platforms where they own the flexibility to pull them. When buyers also claimed that other TV partners had granted relief, on-going checks of iSpot didn't confirm some claims. What was going on here?
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