Live Plus 7 Debate Stalls Upfront

NEW YORK The broadcast upfront marketplace negotiations are stalled because both the networks and media agencies are far apart in their discussions about whether Nielsen Media Research’s Live Plus 7 day ratings should be factored in when guarantees are determined.

Live Plus 7 refers to a program’s Nielsen rating plus a week of playbacks on DVRs.

“Everybody’s talking, but nobody is listening,” said one network sales executive. “Live Plus 7 is the big hurdle. The agencies are pretty dug in on the side that says Live Plus 7 should not be used at all, while all the networks are taking a strong position on the opposite side. It feels like all the agencies have been talking with one another, because they are all taking the same position.”

ABC Sales president Mike Shaw, who publicly said two months ago that he would not do business in the upfront with any agency that does not want to count Live Plus 7 ratings, is said to be taking the strongest position in that regard, refusing to open negotiations unless Live Plus 7 is factored in. Shaw could not be immediately reached for comment.

Media agency executives confirmed that the Live Plus 7 situation was delaying actual negotiations about pricing, and most felt that serious business would not get done until next week at the earliest. “We’re not talking price yet,” said one agency executive.

Several media agencies, known for doing early deals, have been trying to talk price, according to network executives, but until the ratings currency issues are resolved, the networks are holding back from doing any business. “We’re not ready to talk price yet,” said a network sales exec.

Nielsen, like Adweek, is a unit of VNU.