CANNES – Yes, broadcasting live sporting events is expensive considering the rights fees. But it’s a great viewing environment at a time when consumers can avoid ads in other programming.

It’s that “other” programming that concerns media sellers like ESPN and Fox, as evidenced by the discussion during a Comcast panel at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. In fact, it keeps them up at night.

For ESPN, live is a North Star given its connection with fandom, according to Eric Johnson, EVP of Global Advertising Revenue.

“What has become live sport is expensive and at the same time we continue to just grow the way that consumption looks like,” said Johnson. “In live, real time. It’s complex, without a doubt. We try to make it as simple as possible for marketers.”

Fox Networks Group’s Joe Marchese is a big fan of live programming because it’s a choice of that or on-demand, where viewer attention isn’t a given. “Live doesn’t have that same problem. I will keep signing up for making money on live,” he said.

Asked by moderator Matt Spiegel of MediaLink what keeps them up at night, both Johnson and Fox cited the options available to consumers who don’t want to see ads. Then there is a “virtual tonnage of garbage impressions out there that try to keep the price down. That keeps me up,” said Marchese.

Johnson believes the industry has lost sight that “ultimately good marketing is good marketing. We’ve overcomplicated the industry a little bit to get away from that.”

What keeps Johnson awake is that amid the demand branded, native and other forms of interruptive content, “we’re not thinking about advertising in the same way.”

He explained that most clients could buy a full season of football and run one just commercial with lots of frequency, but that wouldn’t be the optimal way of doing things. They need to be shown that varying creative iterations is desirable.

“That’s part of the process of how do we get to a place where we’re now creating a lot of creative for our customers, because we know what works but we have to help them get to that space of what works,” Johnson said.

This video is from The New TV Ecosystem Leadership Forum at Cannes Lions 2017, presented by FreeWheel. For more from the series, please visit this page.