TV Networks Ask Advertisers to Pay Them More Money for Fewer Ads

After years of jamming more advertisements into every hour of the day, TV networks say they’re adopting a new philosophy: Less is more.

Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal and 21st Century Fox Inc. will reduce the number of ads they run in prime time, an effort to halt the stampede of viewers ditching live TV for the advertising-free environs of Netflix Inc.

The hope is that by curbing the supply of advertising, networks will be able to charge higher prices. The plans will be touted this week at the annual event known as the upfronts, when TV chieftains and Hollywood stars gather in New York to pitch advertisers on their upcoming slate of shows.

“We have to try something,” said Bruce Lefkowitz, Fox’s executive vice president of advertising sales.

Viewership of live TV is in free fall, which contributed to a decline in ad sales in 2017, according to data from Magna Global. Making matters worse, the revenue is projected to keep falling for years to come.

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