A slew of TV networks said Thursday they will no longer hold live "upfront" presentations for the advertising community this spring, instead opting to release video presentations.
CBS, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia, Discovery, Disney and Fox each canceled their upcoming in-person presentations in New York City. During the "upfronts," media companies pitch advertisers on their upcoming shows and advancements in their ad tools. In past years, the glitzy events have been held at large venues like Radio City Music Hall and Carnegie Hall, with celebrity appearances and performances from popular musicians.
The cancellations come just days after the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) said Wednesday it recommended companies holding "NewsFronts" events in New York City during April and May present online instead of in person. YouTube and Twitter so far have said they'll stream their events in lieu of live events. The NewsFronts are digital media's answer to the traditional TV "upfronts."
CBS said Tuesday its live presentation at Carnegie Hall will be canceled in favor of a "video Upfront special" that will feature network executives and CBS talent unveiling the 2020-2021 primetime lineup and "unique content from CBS Entertainment, CBS News, CBS Sports and CBS All Access." The special will be posted to digital platforms on May 13.
"Important information and insights normally shared during ViacomCBS client dinners and presentations scheduled for March and April will instead be delivered digitally via video and other formats," the company said in an emailed press release.
NBCU said Thursday its May 11 event would be canceled due to "health concerns" and will televise and stream its upfront presentation.
"NBCUniversal's new Upfront Presentation will feature talent from across its portfolio and platform, and will preview new programming announcements, trailers and more, from Entertainment to Sports to News," the company said. "Tune-in and programming details will be announced at a later date."
AT&T's WarnerMedia and Xandr upfront will also shift to video.
"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," WarnerMedia and Xandr executives said in a statement. "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."
Discovery also canceled its event on May 12, with Jon Steinlauf, Discovery's Chief U.S. ad sales officer, saying in an emailed statement that the company has 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." The company is doing a digital presentation.
Fox said it would also host a digital session instead of its May 11 live event at the Beacon Theatre.
Disney said it would be "reinventing" its upfront, along with Hulu's NewFront.
"Production plans are already underway to develop two star-studded and innovative streaming events, showcasing the breadth and depth of Disney's rich portfolio and infrastructure," a Disney Advertising Sales spokeswoman said in an email. "We are committed to redefining how we bring clients the best storytelling and advertising opportunities. A more detailed announcement of alternative presentation plans will be forthcoming."
The new cancellations come after upfront events in March for AMC Networks, A+E Networks, Fox News and FreeWheel were moved online or canceled.
Roku said in a statement Thursday it's also moving its "NewFront" from a live, in-person presentation to be streaming-only.
Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC.