Economic Woes Means Flex Time for Networks

Most experts agree: this is the worst economic downturn in decades.

Predictions that things will get worse before getting better has some media buyers believing that the recession will work to their advantage. They will be looking for price rollbacks and much more flexible terms to keep the network time spots filled.

But others are not so sure.

Right now, the networks aren’t indicating plans to implement flex time or any other concession to buyers. CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, however, is the only network executive at this point willing to discuss possible pricing changes for his network. He has also indicated that CBS will be selling fewer inventories upfront in 2009.

Sellers at other networks say they have no idea how pricing will turn out this year in the upfront market. They say things could remain uncertain even longer – especially if media buyers come with unrealistic expectations, it could take longer.

According to Media.com North American CEO Doug Checkeris, the big question many advertisers have is, “Why go long now?” The obvious answer seems to be more attractive pricing. Will the pricing issue become between Networks and media buyers become ugly? Checkeris’ response: “If it’s not ugly, then we haven’t done our jobs.”

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