Speaking with reporters on the network’s upfront schedule call, Tuck said the network has “seen things certainly settle down” of late. As far as third-quarter ad buys, “the pace is pretty much what we expected,” he said, and is on par with historical levels.
The network’s upcoming schedule emphasizes January 2021 as the key start to new programming for the year, giving 2020-21 a different contour. Tuck said many advertisers need more time than they typically would for a fall ramp-up.
“Timing may be different from years past but people are getting ready,” he said. “They’re getting ready to figure out their plans for the 2020-21 season. There will be some clients who need to slow down. There are some clients whose businesses weren’t really that affected and they’re able to move quicker.”
Overall, he continued, “The business is starting to get back on its feet. Obviously, we realize the country needs to open, more businesses need to open and slowly but surely once that happens the ad market will begin to move forward as well.”
TV advertising has been hit hard by the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. With unemployment soaring past 30 million people, a large number of media buyers has had to pull back. Media companies have indicated in recent weeks that second-quarter ad revenue is likely to drop anywhere from 30% to 50% compared with 2019 levels. The question for the TV industry is whether its $70 billion ad business — remarkably stable in recent years despite secular downturns in viewership across the dial — is affected over the long term.