Discovery CEO Davis Zaslav joined the chorus of media execs upbeat about the ad market saying it is significantly better than could have been anticipated during the “oh my gosh” phase when COVID-10 hit.
“Cancellations in the third quarter are significantly better than we though and every week the scatter market in terms of value seems to go up. There was a lot of money pulled during that ‘Oh my gosh’ period. …[But] if you look at the money that was pulled and redeployed, the money that was redeployed came back at a higher price. The advertisers that pulled said, ‘I’ve got to get back in there.’ There is an urgency. People are getting out [of the house] more… You are feeling that sentiment with advertisers,” Zaslav said during a Q&A at the CSFB media conference Tuesday.
What’s encouraging is that “When a country opens, the money is coming back in in a meaningful way. We are not back to normal but we are much better than we thought we would be,” he said, noting improvements in Asia, Europe and the U.S. — but a lag in Latin America.
He said April ad sales were down 18% and May and June look to be much better. “We have May in the bag, it’s significantly better,” he said, without giving a number, and June is tracking “meaningfully better” so for us at least it’s very different from the scenarios that we were modeling out in those first few days… If there is not a second wave in the U.S. and Europe things could be significantly better than anyone thought.”
The upfront is getting starting, he said, it’s much later and it’s “definitely the normal push and pull” with fights over price. “Advertisers are saying, ‘Shouldn’t I get something for cheaper, shouldn’t I get a deal?’ and the media is saying, ‘No, we think we should get higher prices.’” Ad spot availability “is less and our share is more so we think we should get more volume and more price.”
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