During this week, the traditional Upfronts were held in New York City. The Upfronts are an annual event which is usually held in May and in which major media companies take the opportunity to show advertisers, critics and journalists their programming plans for the following television season. This year, groups such as NBCUniversal, Fox, TelevisaUnivision, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, Netflix, and YouTube took the stage.
NBCUniversal held its presentation on Monday at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. During the event, the group tried to showcase the power of its premium content offering, and it also put a lot of emphasis on its concept of One Platform, which the company describes as an audience-first approach to modern media, designed to remove the complexity of traditional media buying to help advertisers reach their preferred audiences at scale across linear and digital.
“This marketplace is going to be extremely competitive, which means you need every impression to work harder than ever. This is exactly why we built One Platform: to be the only, advertiser-first ecosystem, that provides you with more consumer touchpoints, smarter technology, bigger partnerships, and the best impact and sales results for your business,” commented Mark Marshall, Interim Chairman of Global Advertising & Partnerships at NBCUniversal.
Fox did its presentation on Monday at the Manhattan Center. Just like the company did last year, it unveiled its 2023-24 content slate and talked about Fox Sports, Fox News and its AVOD streaming service Tubi, although it opted for presenting its programming without revealing a schedule.
“One of the big lessons we learned from the pandemic is how to pivot and be flexible. Rather than announce a schedule today that we may not be able to meet this fall, we will hold back until we have a better handle on what programming will be available to us and when,” Dan Harrison, EVP of Program Planning and Content Strategy at Fox Entertainment, said on a call with reporters.
TelevisaUnivision celebrated its 2023-24 Upfront presentation at Pier 36 in New York City, spotlighting its culture-driving content and market capabilities for advertisers to connect with the fast-growing US Hispanic consumer base. The company took the opportunity to showcase its streaming platform ViX's continued momentum, announcing the service now has more than 30 million monthly active users globally.
“Consumption on the platform is continuing to grow rapidly, as 80% of consumption on VIX is content no one else has and, importantly, 63% of users on ViX are incremental to the massive audience the company serves on linear, which means greater cross-platform reach,” declared Pierluigi Gazzolo, Chief Executive Officer of ViX.
● THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY
On Tuesday, The Walt Disney Company highlighted its position in the marketplace with announcements, clips, and trailers as part of its annual presentation at the North Javits Center in New York City. The event aimed to celebrate Disney’s distinctive, innovative approach to dynamic storytelling backed by technology.
“Storytelling is what distinguishes Disney. We have been cultivating it for a century. In this area of great change, creativity and innovation continue to be the cornerstone of all we do at Disney,” said onstage Rita Ferro, President of Advertising at The Walt Disney Company. Wrapping things up, she told the audience: “All the extraordinary content you have seen today is underpinned by world-class tech and innovation. We are hyper focused on making our business smarter, faster, safer. When you consider what is possible with the convergence of content and tech, we are at the cusp of decades of the best advertising – and we are excited to have you along with us on that journey.”
● WARNER BROS. DISCOVERY
Warner Bros. Discovery showcased its annual Upfront presentation on Wednesday at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, spotlighting its extensive selection of advertising offerings across premium entertainment, sports, news and lifestyle brands within its suite of linear networks, digital platforms and streaming services, including the highly-anticipated and enhanced streaming service Max, available to consumers on May 23. Touting the theme “Dream Bold Here,” the presentation emphasized the firm’s strong value proposition to advertisers, with creative solutions to meet viewers where they are with unmatched reach and scale.
“Warner Bros. Discovery is uniquely positioned in the marketplace with the ability to unlock advertising opportunities across a content portfolio that captures live audiences, creates cultural conversations and inspires viewers through powerful storytelling. We attract targeted and engaged consumers, delivering maximum impact for brands with ad products and creative solutions that provide a best-in-class experience for both advertisers and audiences,” remarked Jon Steinlauf, Chief US Advertising Sales Officer at Warner Bros. Discovery.
Netflix’s debut in the Upfronts was scuppered by the writers’ strike, which forced the company to move its presentation online. In its virtual event, in addition to showing its programming highlights, the company revealed that, since early this year, its ads member base has more than doubled. In fact, just six months in, Netflix’s ad-supported plan has nearly 5 million monthly active users globally, the company said. On average, more than a quarter of Netflix sign ups now choose the ads plan in countries where it is available.
“We share a common goal, which is building connection. You want to connect consumers with your amazing brands. And we want to connect them with amazing entertainment they will love,” said Greg Peters, co-CEO of Netflix. “For our members, it all starts with the variety and quality of our TV shows and films. So whatever your taste, whatever mood you are in, whoever you are with – we will have something great for you to watch. That is why, despite all the competition out there, Netflix is the most popular streaming service today. To be the one to watch, you need everyone watching. And that is what sets Netflix apart,” he added, taking a show at Max and its new catchphrase.
Live from Lincoln Center Theater, YouTube returned to the Upfronts on Wednesday to celebrate its most famous content creators, share news about its partnerships, and unpack some shifts in video. Perhaps the most important news that was given during the event was the introduction of 30-second unskippable ads in top-performing YouTube content. YouTube executives also talked about the service’s massive reach: more than 150 million unique viewers in the United States watched YouTube and YouTube TV on televisions for the month of December 2022, according to Nielsen estimates.
“More and more, viewers are tuning into YouTube on the biggest screen in their home. Viewers – especially younger viewers – no longer make a distinction between the kind of content they are watching. When they turn on the TV, they want everything they love in one place – from their favorite creators, to blockbuster movies, to football. And they can find it all on YouTube,” assured Neal Mohan, CEO of YouTube.