Step aside, C3. Your upfront reign is over.
Around 75 percent of broadcast and cable networks will use Nielsen's C7 metric as their primary currency for this year's upfront deals, according to a new survey from the Video Advertising Bureau. That represents a shift from the C3 standard that has been in place since the metrics were adopted in 2006, said Sean Cunningham, president and CEO at VAB, which is made up of 110 broadcast and cable networks and the 11 largest multichannel video programming distributors. (The survey was taken during a recent VAB board meeting.)
C3 and C7 measure the average viewing of commercial minutes in live programming plus DVR playback for the three or seven days thereafter. As viewing habits have shifted in recent years, networks have pushed to shift the primary currency from C3 to C7 to account for as many delayed eyeballs as possible. Buyers, however, have been more resistant to the change, especially for time-sensitive ads like theatrical spots.
But this year, the majority of upfront agreements will be made on C7. "It was in the spirit of wanting to have the ability to be able to have the advertisers be able to count on as much audience as we could deliver for them," Cunningham said. "There is strong demand for the premium impressions, and we want to put as many premium impressions in front of the advertiser, to give them as many options as possible, going forward."
The shift is occurring as networks and buyers won't be able to use Nielsen's new Total Audience Measurement in time for this year's upfront. "Obviously, we want the widest capture of audience, and we continue to have a systematic undercount problem in multiscreen TV. So to us, it is about getting a more true picture of what's available for the advertiser," said Cunningham.
While networks will be primarily transacting on C7, several will be looking to make deals on other metrics as well. Turner, Fox and NBCU will be looking to do transactions on new, yet distinct, data-based currencies. "The more data that's produced, the better we look, so I'm a huge fan of our exponential growth [in data] over the last couple of years," Cunningham said.