By Maia Brusseau
It's the time of year again, when broadcast and cable television networks roll out the red carpet to wine and dine advertising industry executives in a star-studded week known as the Upfronts.
What are the Upfronts? For more than 60 years, cable and broadcast networks, advertising executives and entertainment journalists have descended upon New York City in May for the weeklong event. Each network's biggest stars give a sneak peek at new shows, special events and returning series coming in the new television season. (Traditional TV seasons run September through May.) This year alone, NBC Universal's one hour and forty-five minute presentation at Radio City Music Hall included Kelly Clarkson, Pete Davidson, Edie Falco, Miley Cyrus, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, Blake Shelton, Laverne Cox, Mariska Hargitay, Andy Cohen and Nicole Byer, in addition to their CEO Jeff Shell. Why trot out all of these a-listers? The entire point of Upfronts is to create a buzz for each network's new content that will entice advertisers to commit their money "up front" at a guaranteed discounted rate. Are Upfronts really relevant anymore? With viewers doing more streaming and on-demand viewing, it does seem like "seasonal" viewing is an outdated model. However, many networks are making changes to remain relevant. For example, for the first time Paramount, which includes CBS, Paramount+, PlutoTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and MTV, will present a single "unified Upfront." In the past, these would have been separate presentations. And, there's a new(ish) kid in town. In 2008, the NewFronts debuted; digital content providers' answer to the Upfronts. NewFronts give digital content providers like Hulu and YouTube, along with other major players, the opportunity to showcase original content. And, like the Upfronts, trot out big stars and throw glitzy parties all to entice advertisers to commit money to advertising on their platforms. But, they don't stop there. NewFronts also highlight digital trends and announce new advertising opportunities like Amazon's virtual product placement (VPP), Peacock's in-scene ads and Roku's shoppable ads. (We can't wait to place these exciting new ad units for our clients!) Why don't the NewFronts and Upfronts just combine forces to create one big amazing event? As advertisers take a more wholistic approach with their dollars, combining the two seems to be in the cards for these content providers. In fact, there's already crossover where companies are presenting at both, since most now offer multiple methods of content delivery. Regardless of how relevant the Upfronts remain or how much bigger NewFronts get, it is still exciting to learn about new content, technology and other events coming to our TVs, regardless of how we watch them. So, we'll keep paying close attention the the Upfronts, NewFronts and whatever fronts come next! We love talking all things advertising, old and new, so drop us a line if you want to chat!