Broadcast network television may not command the audience that it once could, but it still very much matters to advertisers for one simple reason: There’s nowhere else they can put their products in front of a few million Americans at once. Many of the most watched programs have moved to premium cable channels like HBO or to streaming services like Netflix, which are not ad-supported. That has limited advertisers ability to reach huge audiences. However, even a modestly successful broadcast network show can reach 4 or 5 million viewers, which is still more exposure than an ad buyer can gain anywhere else. That access is hugely important to, say, a movie studio trying to promote its latest new release. Internet banner ads and preroll advertisements can only go so far, which means a show like, for instance, Fresh Off the Boat — 4.4 million viewers with an identifiable demographic — can command even more money per viewer than could shows with an amorphous audience of 15 million back in the 1990s.
In other words, no entity is more important to the success of a new network series than the people who pay for them: Advertisers. The upfronts each year are specifically designed for ad buyers to find their favorite new shows to advertise on. Their opinion matters, and according to a Media Life poll of media buyers, here’s what those ad buyers think of the new fall offerings: