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Visible and Invisible Changes
Notes on Investigation of 2012 USA Network Presale Conference

06-14-2012 17:01 BJT

Zhu Bin

  It’s the second time for investigating USA Network Presale Conference. Comparing to strangeness and novelty felt at the first time, besides the shock and impact on senses and ideas, presenting the conference this time also enables us to think more reasonably and observe soberly.

  About 50 years ago, every autumn, auto giants of Detroit would compete for launching new auto models. Catering to tremendous advertising demands, various television networks would broadcast the latest programs at evening prime time of autumn, while the advertising slots for the current autumn would be presold to auto manufacturers in May each year. This is the origin of presale season of the USA Networks. Several decades have passed and the US presale season has been gradually perfected in changes. With joining of cable television and new media, presale conference has already become the annually largest trade and exchange platform of advertising circle.

Visible Changes

  Leaving Hilton Hotel in which the conference has been held for successively two years, NBC’s presale promotion conference was again held in Radio City Music Hall of Rockefeller Center. Change of physical location seems demonstrating NBC’s great ambition: becoming No. 1 television network again. Rodio City Music Hall has about 4,000 seats. The on-site attendance is approximately above 90 percent with attendees approximately exceeding 3,000, which is the largest conference among all promotion conferences we’ve participated in terms of scale.

  In addition to NBC’s promotion conference, promotion conferences of FOX, ABC, and ESPN are all full of attendees which are estimated to be over one thousand. The soaring popularity allows us to feel that America’s television media has seemingly gone through all the difficulties.

  Data announced by media also has confirmed this kind of feeling. In the presale season of last y ear, the five major television networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, CW)have obtained presale contracts valued totally 8.8-9.3 billion US dollars, an increase of 9 percent compared to the same period of 2010. While this year, due to uncertainty of macro economy and drag of the European debt crisis, overall revenues of television media industry will not enjoy an increase as much as last year. However, according to prediction of Morgan Stanley, presale revenue of television networks will still see an increase of 4.3 percent compared to 2011 and that of cable networks will rise 6.3 percent.

  Advertising needs of auto, retail, film and catering industries see robust growth and that of finance industry and fast-moving consumer goods also are reviving. All these have motivated increase of TV advertising presale revenues.

Invisible Changes

  TV presale season of each year starts from March. Generally, small wireless television networks and cable television networks as well as professional channels, such as MTV, Discovery Channel, FOX NEWS familiar to us, conduct recommendation in March and April. However, from April 19 this year, in a total of two weeks, new media participated in the presale team for attracting advertising clients’ attention and budget, which is Digital Content NewFront 2012. About 10 largest digital content media such as Hulu, Google/You Tube, Digitas, etc. also successively held presale promotion conferences in New York.

  As one of the countries enjoying the most developed scientific technologies and being origin of multiple new media, the United States sees unprecedented challenges put forward by new media to traditional medial. It’s safe to describe the situation as “digital savages have come to the door”. The methods various television networks adopt to cope with such challenge are worthy of our thinking and learning.

  Practices of television networks may be summed up as two points which are interlinked.

  1. Highlighting “Contents being the King”, TV media is originally a social media

  Nearly at all pre-sale promotion conferences we have attended, top managements of television networks will repeatedly emphasize capability of their programs in creating topics and their ability of interacting with audience/consumers. No matter it is song and dance drama like Glee, or reality shows such as X Factor, Voice or America’s Got Talent, or teleplays with various themes such as comedy, suspense and science fiction, TV media’s capability of creating mass topics and attracting participation of audience is far stronger than that of new media. And it’s just TV programs that provide social media such as Facebook, Twitter with a wide range of topics.

  As digital new media is too fragmented, it has to rely on topics created by TV programs to own clear transmission lines. Besides, in essence, TV media itself is social media. Culture ascription and experience obtained through watching and discussing the same TV program is the method and ability of communication uniquely to human beings.

  2. Binding sales and integrating propaganda

  Both ESPN and ABC have announced at the seminar that their program platform can be used to create propaganda schemes combining cross-platform and online and offline services for advertising clients.

  Fox Business Network even announced to additionally set up an apartment named “Bridge”, which will specially take charge of tailoring promotion schemes for clients, bringing clients’ broadcasting contents to social networks and other online platforms where fans gather.

  The journey of pre-sale inspection in America comes to an end while the discussion on the future of TV and presale just kicks off.

Editor:肖斐 |Source: CNTV

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