Stepping away from busy upfront negotiations, a sleep-deprived Jo Ann Ross, President, Network Sales, CBS (NYSE: CBS) talked with ContentNext Media publisher and editor Rafat Ali at the EconAds Seminar on the state of the upfront, as well as the company’s pending acquisition of CNET.
– Changing upfront: “Every year there’s the articles written saying ‘upfront is dead’… I don’t see it changing substantively.” But there is more attention being paid to interactive, which, said Ross, is good news for CBS given its interactive properties.
– Rates: “The market.. volume may be down a little bit, but the CPM rate increases will be there.” Can CPM increases offset ratings declines across the industry? That’s the challenge for the whole industry. “How do we get ahead?” A hit can turn a network around.
– CNET (NSDQ: CNET) and Cross-Platform Sales: “I’m very excited that we’re buying CNET.” She noted that at this point there’s not much she can say since the merger isn’t done: “I may be speaking prematurely, but the intention is, once we integrate the interactive sales team that are selling CNET and the interactive sales teams that are selling CBS, we’ll be integrated…. whether or not they get packaged into broadcast or sold on its own remains to be seen.” Later she noted the marketer’s perspective on cross-platform sales: “When clients come in and say ‘we want to buy CBS.com,’ it usually is tied to the network, to a show.” Can CNET bring tech advertisers to the network? There should be some incremental gain, since there’s very little advertiser overlap.
– Jericho: “It came on in the schedule and it was not doing well in the ratings…decisions have to be made. The shows that are going to live online in a healthy way are really going to have to do a number on the network.” Later Rafat asked the key question of whether a show like Jericho can healthily live online. The answer: It’s just about traffic.
– Selling Wallstrip and Last.FM: We would love to sell it along with our news product, (but) demographic for news product skews older. Last.fm: “hopefully we’ll be able to move some Last.fm with the upfront” But it’s not really a packaging element. Movie studios are natural Last.fm advertisers.