With Upfronts and NewFronts Comes the Invasion of the Acronyms

Sorting out OTT from SVOD from MVPD, etc

As the 2015-2016 presentation season draws to a close, you've probably heard plenty of industry jargon to go along with all the cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. We're here to spell it out for you.

First, let's make a distinction between the upfronts and the NewFronts. The idea of the upfronts goes back to the spring of 1962 when ABC gauged advertiser interest in a slate of new shows to debut that September. The Digital Content NewFronts were first held in 2012 as a means of creating a marketplace for original video content and advertising opportunities. They are managed by the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau).

Now to the jargon:

VOD – Video on demand: Distributors make network programming available that can be accessed by viewers on their own schedules.

SVOD – Subscription video on demand: It's like VOD, but you pay for the programming.

John Swift, CEO and president of North American Investment at Omnicon Group, calls SVOD "a big, untapped part of the business. Viewers select the show they want, when they want to watch it, so they're engaged," he said, adding that unlike with DVRs, viewers can't skip the ads, so it matches up with three-day measurement windows.

Tracey Scheppach, evp of precision video at Starcom MediaVest Group, said VOD/SVOD is "part of the upfront. There is demand from clients. The question is: What is the supply from operators?" She noted that 25 percent of SVOD viewing occurs during the C3 window. The balance of viewing comes in day four and beyond, and there are some dynamic ad insertion capabilities there.

TVOD – Transactional video on demand: The opposite of SVOD, TVOD allows users to pay for an individual program.

OTT – Over the top: This is content that comes from a third-party provider, bypassing a cable operator, satellite or telco distributor. The content can be delivered on an array of Internet-connected devices and set-top boxes, like Roku.

"I love that the industry is being disrupted," said MediaVest vice president of investment Melissa Shapiro. "Roku has 12 million homes. It's scaling, and it opens linear TV to a digital measurement, making linear TV more precise. There's only more to come."

TVE – TV everywhere: Authenticated subscribers watch TV content on connected devices wherever and whenever. The content is available inside and outside the home, primarily via livestreaming simulcasts. Pay-TV distributors are bolstering their investments in hopes of keeping customers from cutting the cord.

Jackie Kulesza, evp, group director of digital acceleration at Starcom USA, said the ability to watch programming on phones and tablets "provides for a richer consumer experience," before cautioning that TVE is "not one size fits all. We have to understand rights, windows and options. This is an increasingly important platform that can allow for more targeted messages."

MVPD – Multichannel video programming distributor: This service delivers video for a fee. In many cases, cable and satellite providers charge MVPDs to carry their programming. The shuttered Internet service Aereo sought to be considered an MVPD before a Supreme Court ruling all but killed it.

MMDS – Multichannel multipoint distribution service: Also known as wireless cable, the service provides content—free over-the-air, pay tv, or Internet video—using microwave transmissions.

Programmatic – Part of the digital publishing and mobile worlds, programmatic is in its nascent stages in the TV ad community. Although questions abound when it comes to its impact on pricing and traditional means of transacting business, programmatic aspires to use data-driven automation to optimally match targeted inventory against highly specific audience groups.

"It's an emerging factor that will definitely become bigger down the road—definitely," said Initiative's Ginsberg. "The scale is not there yet, but it's 100 percent a factor in upfront discussion. Networks need to know business is going there, or they are going to lose sales if they don't participate."

Here's more from the IAB:

Addressable – Tapping live, local inventory from cable operators and other distributors, marketers can deliver specific ads reaching targeted households based on income, ethnicity and progeny, rooted in set-top-box data. This market encompasses about 50 million homes, with DirecTV, Dish, Cablevision, Comcast, AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS participating to varying degrees.

"This market was virtually at zero in 2012 and about $300 million last year," said Scheppach. "It could double in 2015. Others operators are talking about stepping up the technology this year."

Linear – This is TV as it was known before the digital age. Linear programming exists for viewers to watch at a scheduled time and on a particular channel.