Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's Upfront week!

This is the week that advertisers and their media agencies head to New York for the annual advance sale of media time--a timeframe known as the "upfronts." Each network presents its plans for the coming fall introduction of new shows as well as the planned lineup for the new TV year. And perhaps no year has been as unsettled as this one for the state, current and future, of TV ad sales.

NBC was first up yesterday and unveiled six new shows. Parenthood is a TV adaptation of the movie of the same name; Day One is a post-apocalyptic show, something that I'm sure viewers will be clamoring for (tongue planted firmly in cheek) in this day of troubling economic news domestically. The marquee offering, though, is Trauma--a show which deals with young emergency medical technicians. Set in San Francisco, the show is produced by Peter Berg, the guy behind Friday Night Lights. Interestingly, the show sounds very familiar to the long-running NBC offering, E.R., which just concluded its multi-year run.

For Grey's Anatomy fans, there is Mercy. This show will follow three young nurses and their busy professional, and sex, lives.

NBC didn't present a complete fall schedule as it is still contemplating several renewal decisions, including Law and Order. Other shows with yet-to-be-determined futures are Chuck, My Name is Earl and Medium.

The upfronts are ordinarily an optimistic time in the advertising business but not this year. Not all advertisers participate in the upfronts--some choose to hold their cards rather than booking time now. One analyst predicted that the upfront market may shrink by as much as 25% this season.

Stay tuned--we'll try to track what other networks present this week as the upfronts continue.

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