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NBCU, CBS & More Forgo Live Upfronts


CBS Television Network will forego its live presentation to the advertising community at Carnegie Hall, opting instead for a video presentation, and NBCUniversal has canceled its live Upfronts, with plans to televise and stream the event, and others such as FOX, Discovery and The CW are doing the same.

NBCUniversal was originally scheduled to host its live Upfront event on May 11, but due to health concerns regarding coronavirus, will instead televise and stream the presentation for the 2020-21 season “to ensure the safety of all participants while also reflecting the increasingly direct relationship between NBCUniversal, its fans and its partners,” the company said. “This will now allow all audiences to tune in for a sneak peek at the future of NBCUniversal’s programming.”

Taking into consideration guidelines from public health officials, ViacomCBS will have network executives and CBS talent unveil the new 2020-21 prime-time lineup and content from CBS Entertainment, CBS News, CBS Sports and CBS All Access in a video Upfront special to be posted to digital platforms on May 13.

Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal, said: “At this moment in time, we can embrace a new future that puts our audiences and our partners first. This year’s Upfront Presentation will ensure everyone’s safety while allowing us to give fans and marketers a preview of the upcoming season.”

“We’ll miss Carnegie Hall and our agency dinners this year, but the health and safety of our clients and the ViacomCBS team come first,” said Jo Ann Ross, president and chief advertising revenue officer for ViacomCBS Domestic Advertising Sales. “Our team has been planning for this possibility for weeks, and we have devised a digital showcase to unveil all of the premium content that we’re delivering throughout the company, from CBS Television Network and our robust cable portfolio across the entertainment and youth and premium brands. We won’t miss a beat in engaging with clients around our unmatched offerings and solutions.”

“CBS has a very good story to tell, and this year we need a unique way to tell it,” added Kelly Kahl, president of CBS Entertainment. “We’re confident that this alternate format for this year can deliver what we’ve come to expect from a CBS Upfront—entertainment, stars, strategy and the first look at our new primetime series.”

“The health and safety of the advertising community, our employees and production partners is our absolute priority, so we will alter our plans for this year’s Upfront presentation,” said Gerhard Zeiler, chief revenue officer at WarnerMedia, and Kirk McDonald, chief business officer at Xandr. “We have the technological and creative means to showcase our unified WarnerMedia/Xandr message through a unique video experience and will do just that on May 13.”

“In light of recent developments and the current guidelines being set by health officials regarding COVID-19, The CW Network has decided to forgo its traditional live upfront presentation… as we join the community’s efforts to ensure that everyone’s health and safety is our top priority,” the network said in a statement. “As a result, we are currently exploring alternative and innovative ways of communicating The CW’s overall strategy, showcase our new and returning programming and present our upcoming fall schedule to advertisers, press, the industry and our fans. We will be sharing additional details as we move forward.”

“With Discovery’s increased scale and reach, we were proud and excited to showcase our expanded portfolio of beloved brands and talent, for the first time, during the traditional broadcast Upfront week,” said Jon Steinlauf, Discovery’s chief U.S. ad sales officer. “The decision to cancel is bittersweet but unequivocally the right one. We have a terrific story to tell and more opportunities and products than ever for current and prospective advertisers. We will just tell that story in a way that best suits these unprecedented times.”

About Kristin Brzoznowski

Kristin Brzoznowski is the executive editor of World Screen. She can be reached at [email protected]


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