Broadcast networks are likely to see a serious decline in their upfronts market, with spending only expected to hit somewhere between $7.4 and $8.2 billion. That doesn’t sound too bad until you consider that last year’s upfronts brought in $9.23 billion last year, which makes those new estimates anywhere from a 10 to 20% decrease.

These estimates are working off commitment numbers, not actual bought upfronts as such, and there’s always a chance that marketers will invest more, but it’s not looking good. The commitment numbers are usually a pretty good indicator of the health of broadcasting, and with this being the first large decrease since 2001, it isn’t looking like good news for the upfronts.

The last small dip was due to concerns from marketers that TV was no longer effective marketing strategy, and that may be an additional factor here as well. Obviously the economy has the biggest impact, but drtv marketers are looking for the biggest return on their investment, and they’re starting to wonder if broadcast television is a smart place to spend an ever-tightening marketing budget.

The other problem is that no one wants to rush. “Wait and see” is the watch-phrase of the day, and neither marketers nor networks are pushing to get these numbers higher.