The U.S. broadcast TV networks’ upfronts kick off on May 12, but that doesn’t mean ad buyers are putting their feet up until then. For the last month, the U.S. cable networks have been holding their upfronts in New York City, and starting on April 28, the digital NewFronts — a relatively new tradition — will commence.
For years, the networks’ biggest rivals in the upfront game were other broadcast networks. Then came cable networks. Now the digital video players, like YouTube and Hulu are getting plenty of advertisers to fork over money.
While the actual buying and selling typically starts in early June, the myriad promotional events known as upfronts and NewFronts start months before. The first one this year was El Rey, a startup English-language cable channel geared toward Latino audiences, way back in February. Next up came the Weather Channel and Nickelodeon in March.
Among the news that’s come out of the cable networks so far: Bravo, a channel known for its reality fare, is pushing scripted series with a pair of half-hour comedies: Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce and Odd Mom Out. WE tv, which like Bravo is female-centric, will premiere its first original scripted series this July. The Divide follows a woman telling the story of a woman fighting for a death-row inmate she believes was wrongly convicted (from AMC Studios).
In another first, AMC is focusing on comedy. The network announced its first comedy project, We Hate Paul Revere, about brothers Hugh and Ebenezer Moody and their struggle to find their place the shadow of history in Colonial Boston. The pilot is set to shoot this year for 2015 consideration. AMC also has a project in development that’s based on Andrea Abbate’s play Random Acts, and revolves around two single girls in their early 30s who work as contract killers, dealing with drug lords, crooked cops and unpaid debts. Other comedy projects include a series based on the life of actor John Leguizamo and No Money Down from former Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac. Looking to enter the late-night arena, the network has ordered a pilot based on Kevin Smith’s podcast Hollywood Babble-On.
Of course there’s a lot more to come. Here are some of the upfronts/NewFronts still to come:
April 22 – Scripps Networks
April 23-BET Networks
April 24- MTV
April 28-Buzzfeed, Microsoft, Yahoo
April 29- AOL
April 30- Hulu, Google/YouTube
May 6 – National Geographic
May 12- NBC, FOX
May 13 – ABC, ESPN, Univision, Telemundo
May 14- CBS, TBS/TNT