The Deal: Live Nation, SFX, Vevo & Clear Channel Vie for A Larger Chunk of TV's Upfront Ad Dollars

The upfront season - when media companies secure some $20 billion in early advertising buys with TV, cable and radio networks and online content companies - is underway, and increasingly, music-industry giants Live Nation, Clear Channel and SFX are gunning for a slice of that ad-dollar pie.

Online music-video outlets such as Vevo and YouTube took a seat at the table several years ago by joining the Digital Content NewFronts, alongside such major digital players as Microsoft and Yahoo. These presentations to advertisers take place in early May, before the broadcast networks take their turn.

This year, Vevo, YouTube and Vice will be competing for upfront ad dollars with Live Nation, Clear Channel and SFX, which are privately touting multimillion-dollar, multiplatform packages - TV, radio, Internet and live performance - for advertisers. "The splashy events don't allow you to build custom programs," says Greg Glenday, president of Clear Channel Connections, the company's sponsorship division.

Live Nation is expected to be part of a surprise upfront presentation with a to-be-announced partner in late April, and Vevo will unveil an original programming slate at its May 5 presentation that will pair artists with brands.

According to the IEG sponsorship report, advertisers' live-music spends are expected to reach $1.3 billion this year, up 4.4 percent over 2013. Pepsi, Citibank and Samsung have made music a year-round part of their marketing strategies, and a wider swath of brands are allocating TV dollars to platforms like Vevo, which hit a monthly average of nearly 6 billion views in December, as TV ratings erode. That's why Vevo will be pitching "360"-style packages at its upfront that incorporate PCs, mobile web, apps, tablets and connected TVs. Vevo already gets 50 percent of its business from multiplatform ad buys. "We spent the last nine months converting from channel-specific buys to this multiplatform approach," says Vevo chief revenue officer Jonathan Carson, "and advertisers have embraced it beyond our expectations."


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