May 15, 2018

TV networks fight for billions in ad dollars during upfronts

Illulstration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Traditional TV networks spend millions of dollars renting out fancy venues and bringing in talent acts to wow advertisers their annual upfront presentations. The schedule is itself a thing of prestige. Only the top-tier networks will present in New York this week.

Why it matters: Billions of dollars of advertising dollars are spent on advanced commitments of programming during the TV upfronts season.

Media Dynamics, Inc. estimates that total ad revenue for the broadcast TV networks and cable channels amounted to nearly $20 billion last year, while Variety estimates that the five English-speaking broadcast networks will earn between $8 billion to $9 billion.

The big takeaways so far, per Variety:

  • NBC: Executives took digs at Facebook and talked about brand safety, while touting the success of some of its classic programming — like Project Runway and America's Got Talent — and the Olympics. "This is Us" is their golden egg.
  • Fox: Executives didn't shy away from questions about "New Fox," football is still the network's Holy Grail and unscripted series are on the rise.

What's missing? Dozens of shows have been cancelled this season as networks shift their primetime priorities. (The Wrap has a full list.)

What's next: ESPN and Disney/ABC are up today. CBS and Turner are Wednesday.

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GM to exit Australia, New Zealand and Thailand

GM's Holden brand is popular among racing fans down under, and it's been a regular fixture at events like the Bathurst 1000 V8 Supercar Race in Australia. Photo: Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

General Motors is retiring its celebrated Holden brand from sales in Australia and New Zealand after 160 years and winding down operations by 2021, the company confirmed in a statement Monday.

The big picture: GM also intends to "sell its Rayong factory in Thailand to China's Great Wall Motors and withdraw the Chevrolet brand from Thailand by the end of this year," AP reports. "The downsizing is part of a long-running strategy at GM since the Detroit-based company emerged from bankruptcy in 2009," per Bloomberg.

In photos: Deadly Storm Dennis lashes U.K., Ireland and western France

A family is rescued from a property in Nantgarw, Wales, on Sunday. The storm comes a week after the U.K. was battered by storm Ciara, which killed two people, per the BBC. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Storm Dennis continued to pummel parts of England, Wales and Ireland over Sunday night with heavy rain after battering Northern Ireland and Scotland, per the official British weather agency the Met Office.

Why it matters: It's the second-strongest nontropical storm ever recorded in the North Atlantic Ocean, with its hurricane-force winds and heavy rains that caused widespread flooding across the U.K., the Washington Post notes. Police in Wales confirmed Sunday they found the body of a man who fell into a river as the storm lashed Ystradgynlais.

Sanders accuses Bloomberg of trying to "buy" the 2020 election

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg. Photos: Drew Angerer; Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders tore into 2020 rival Michael Bloomberg at a Las Vegas campaign event Saturday, saying the billionaire and former New York mayor is trying to "buy the presidency" by paying millions of dollars in advertising.

Why it matters: Bloomberg has surged in national polling recently, having poured millions of dollars into campaign ads largely targeting Trump. His candidacy has become an obvious foil for Sanders, whose grassroots campaign railing against billionaires and the establishment has vaulted him to front-runner status.

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