At TV’s Upfront Pitch, Traditional TV Takes a Back Seat While Netflix Is on Every Lip

On the street front, like the TV industry’s annual pitch to advertisers, the traditional TV side of this year’s trend can never be less important.

Amid obstacles to streaming video, this week’s presentations focused less on networks’ traditional hourly scheduling strategies and more on actual content — now largely made available to consumers wherever and whenever they want to watch.

In some superficial ways, at least, these face-to-face are a return to normalcy.

After two years of remote events during the Covid-19 pandemic, network owners like Comcast Of Corp.

NBCUniversal, Fox Corp.

Discovery of Warner Bros. Inc.,

Paramount Global and Walt Disney Co.

continues to host live meetups in Manhattan this week at locations including Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall and the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Companies rely on their celebrity talent — from Kevin Costner to Jessica Chastain to Selena Gomez — to help promote their shows live onstage, often ending with musical performances, including including Miley Cyrus, Trace Adkins and Jennifer Hudson.

But signs of change in the entertainment and advertising sectors are striking.

For the first time, Alphabet Of Inc.

YouTube held its presentation for the week instead of the previous period in the previous NewFronts, where tech companies touted to advertisers in a manner modeled on TV facades.

Allan Thygesen, regional president for the Americas and global partners at Google’s Alphabet, said Tuesday at the YouTube event: “Traditionally, front-ends have been for TV networks. “But today, because of the amazing changes we’ve seen in the media industry, we know, like many of you know, this isn’t your parents’ upfront payment.”

Here’s what everyone has to say about what people are talking about at this year’s showdowns.

Netflix, Netflix, Netflix

Netflix Inc.

was the subject of several jokes in presentations this week after it said last month it was exploring offering an ad-supported version of the service for a lower price. The company also this week said it would cut about 150 employees in a fresh round of layoffs as the streaming company grapples with slowing revenue growth and shrinking subscribers.

Jimmy Kimmel, host of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” ABC’s on Tuesday joked about Netflix’s long-standing competition with traditional networks, saying, “Netflix loses subscribers for the first time. Things were really hard there, they were fired today… So now, they come for our money. Our advertising dollars. ”

“After those smug bastards have strangled our lives for years, it feels really great to see them head into selling ads,” he said.

Lizzo performs on stage during YouTube’s Brandcast event on Tuesday in New York.


Noam Galai / Getty Images

Similar reports surfaced in presentations from Fox, where Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks joked with advertisers that “without you, we’d just be Netflix” and NBCUniversal, where Linda Yaccarino – president of global advertising and partnerships – says that at some companies, advertising can be an afterthought “or even worse, a new idea for a revenue stream. “.

But advertisers themselves are eager for Netflix’s breakthrough.

“It’s gotten competitive, but this is great, because it just means there’s going to be a lot of innovation,” said Sara Adler, head of TV at Within, a marketing firm based in New York. This is better for the consumer and the brand.

Contents on the calendar

The presentations underscore the networks’ desire to reach growing consumers, whenever and wherever they’re watching, instead of focusing too much on the traditional schedule of programming blocks daily.

“The concept of watching anything at a set date and time is outdated, with a few cases,” said Denise Ocasio, managing director and head of US investment group at WPP PLC’s Mindshare media agency. Exception. “Viewers see great content, and producing that content has been at the heart of every presentation to date,” she said Wednesday, during the week’s events.

NBCUniversal also highlighted three new movies that will make their way to the Peacock streaming service when they launch next year, and CEO Jeff Shell acknowledged the novelty of talking about movies in the first place. Peacock includes ad-supported levels.

Disney executives, who not only represent networks like ABC and ESPN but also the Disney+ streaming service and its upcoming ad-supported version, spoke of the “high amount of storytelling the best we’ve ever produced.”

“Every partner is doubling down on the depth and breadth of their portfolio, especially in terms of their studio strength,” said Mindshare’s Ms. Ocasio. “It’s without a doubt due to the ongoing consolidation of movies into their streaming platforms in shorter windows.”

Update measurement afoot

The networks have highlighted their experiments with alternative measurement currencies as Nielsen’s dominance in TV metrics has been shaken, sending the field into flux.

Last year, the Media Review Board, the industry’s measurement watchdog, withdrew its national and local TV ratings recognition from Nielsen. Nielsen remains the dominant currency in TV ad deals, but this development has opened the door to new strategies: NBCUniversal in January said it would also partner with Inc. ., a company that aims to help advertisers verify the reach and impact of their TV and online ads, as it seeks to better quantify how consumers view ads in other media together.


Paramount held a brief quiz during its advertiser pitch Wednesday at Carnegie Hall in New York.



Paramount said it is offering buyers additional choice with VideoAmp, Comscore and, soon,, while Warner Bros. Discovery says it is also working with these companies.

“The challenges with measurement are industry-wide and will be addressed with all partners during the negotiation process,” Ms. Ocasio said. “Our transaction currency needs to be universal to all partners, so we will continue to test both Nielsen and alt currencies to present our customers with currency with the most accuracy and value.”

Within’s Ms. Adler said Nielsen isn’t going away, but that alternative currencies will help advertisers as they seek deeper insights into the audience an ad reaches.

“Marketers are demanding more from measurement than they have been doing for decades,” Ms. Adler said. “Impressions are only so many,” she said.

Write letter for Megan Graham at

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