The programmatic TV guide: fall preview

The new fall TV season is upon us and if upfronts were any indication, this year’s line-up will feature more than just the usual array of short-lived flops and returning faves. The 2016-2017 network television season will also feature more programmatically sold ad inventory than any broadcast season before.

This year’s upfronts–the traditional debutante season for direct sales–was also a coming out party for a major facet of advanced TV with several major broadcasters announcing plans to commit serious inventory to programmatic channels. With roughly $1 billion of the $70 billion broad television market now available in programmatic channels, automation in broadcast could be the sleeper hit of the fall.


NBC’s must-see programmatic TV

NBC–the original home of must-see-TV–is also on the forefront of the programmatic revolution.  This fall the network is leading off its slate with the Kristen Bell and Ted Danson fronted comedy “The Good Place,” but the network will also find itself in a “good place” programmatically with the launch of NBCUx, the largest programmatic offering in broadcast history.

The program–which debuted on NBCU’s digital channels last year– will open NBC’s broadcast inventory, along with that of other NBCUniversal owned outlets like SyFy, AMC, and Bravo, to programmatic buyers for the first time this fall. NBCUx will get a segmenting and addressability boost from Comcast, whose data partnership with NBC will power the first programmatic season.

With an estimated 10 percent of all the network’s premium inventory now available through NBCUx programmatic buyers now have access to targetable segments of a broadcast and cable network that reaches 99 percent of all American homes, roughly 123.4 million households

CBS eyes programmatic from a distance

For a network with a heavily boomer skewing audience, CBS has kept its programmatic focus surprisingly digital. The broadcaster ramped up its reliance on programmatic last fall, but only for the digital properties it operates under the CBS Interactive banner. That’s nothing to sneeze at–CBSi reaches 270 million unique monthly visitors across 21 websites and video streaming platforms– but it seems that the linear side of CBS is still allergic to programmatic.

However, there may be some hope on the horizon for a mid-season replacement. The eye network has been pouring resources, and premium programming, into its subscription streaming service CBS All Access. Right now there’s no ad supported version of that service, but earlier this year CBS teamed up with everyone’s favorite ratings partner, Nielsen, to start tracking tune in to the service across digital and mobile suggesting that it may be gearing up to bow an addressable version of the services to advertisers as a mid-season surprise.

FOX (has) news

With no intention of being left behind, perennial competitor FOX has also rolled out a programmatic plan for the fall. The network is upping its data to make programming more addressable, bringing the same programmatic architecture it uses for its digital channels to linear TV. The plan hinges on a very special guest star: data.

FOX is amping up its Audience Insights Manager to facilitate segmenting and make its inventory more addressable. As the owner of one of the greatest crossover hits, American Idol, FOX knows how important segmenting will be to the future of TV revenue.

FOX’s programmatic marketplace will include some of its premium inventory, allowing advertisers to enjoy semi-automated access to The New Girl, but the actual transactions will still be direct. Advertisers will be able to locate similar segments within the sprawling FOX TV empire and utilize targeting data to automate aspects of the planning and buying process.

The fall outlook

The fall season is full of firsts. The first female fronted series about a major league sport. The first solo lead for long-time CSI star Michael Weatherly. And the first season of major network broadcast and cable television to take a significant swing at programmatic.

Viewers tuning in on linear and connected platforms should expect to see ads that are more relevant and targeted than previous seasons. This improved ad relevance is likely to be a welcomed addition to the cast of tactics driving television advertising this Fall. This advancement in ad tech will help combat commercial fatigue, something that has become standard for viewers especially on connected devices. For marketers, Advanced TV provides another opportunity to utilize data in targeting viewers with precision and accuracy.

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