YouTube will stream its big advertiser pitch instead of holding an in-person event due to coronavirus

Key Points
  • The Interactive Advertising Bureau is encouraging its NewFronts presenters, which include YouTube, Hulu, Amazon, Roku and other major digital companies, to stream presentations beginning next month amid growing concerns around the spread of coronavirus. 
  • YouTube said Wednesday it had shifted its "Brandcast" presentation to be a "digital-first event to be premiered on YouTube." The company said it would be sharing more details, but did say that means there will be no in-person audience. 
  • NewsFronts is a major event where digital media companies pitch to advertisers.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki speaks onstage during the YouTube Brandcast 2018 presentation at Radio City Music Hall on May 3, 2018 in New York City.
Source: YouTube

As coronavirus spreads around the U.S., the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) said Wednesday it "strongly recommends" companies holding NewsFronts events in New York City during April and May present online instead of in person.

YouTube is one of the first companies to heed the IAB recommendation. On Wednesday it said that it will stream its "Brandcast" event on YouTube instead of hosting an in-person audience. Google, which owns YouTube, told employees in the U.S. and Canada on Tuesday to work from home until at least April 10. Other companies slated to hold events include Twitter, Roku YouTube, Amazon, The New York Times Company, BBC News, Vudu, Conde Nast, Verizon Media, Vice Media Group, Ellen Digital Network, Meredith and Digitas.

The NewFronts are scheduled to run from April 27 through May 6. They're digital-focused versions of more traditional television "upfronts," where media companies pitch advertisers on their upcoming shows and advancements in their ad tools. In years' past, the glitzy events have been held at large venues like Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden, with celebrity appearances and performances from popular musicians.

A Roku spokeswoman said it was assessing the situation internally for its plans for the NewFronts. A Twitter spokeswoman said the company will be producing a "fully streamed presentation for NewFronts." 

"We are committed to supporting the industry and believe that the new streaming option we're outlining here allows for the most flexibility to serve your specific requirements," the IAB said in its post.

The organization said presenters have the choice of producing a live, standalone presentation at the event or can create a blend of a live-plus-streamed show that would cater to people in attendance as well as those who prefer to stay home and watch online.

It will also provide a central IAB production facility that will help publishers stream their pitch presentations.

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