By the time the U.S. broadcast networks (and Spanish-language broadcast networks like Univision, Telemundo and Fox Hispanic) hold their upfronts next week — exact dates are here — they’ll mark the end of a multi-month-long run of presentations geared at clients and ad agencies.
The first upfront of the year — for U.S. cable network Oxygen — took place on February 5. Since then, a plethora of other ad-supported cable networks — including Bravo, Syfy, BET, even The Weather Channel, have held presentations.
This year a good share of the attention was paid to the second annual “Digital NewFronts,” a five-day event held in New York City at the end of April/beginning of May. At the NewFronts, digital media sellers tried their hands at imitating the traditional TV business model in an attempt to attract money from marketers and ad agencies.
The question still looming is whether that digital ad spending will come from budgets diverted from television or whether it will represent additional money.
Nearly 20 companies — including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Hulu and AOL — held NewFronts under the aegis of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and about 100 new programs were unveiled.
Some were broadcast TV-length (including Hulu’s Mother Up, an animated series starring Eva Longoria and its 30-minute comedic drama Quick Draw) most, however, were shorts: just three-to-five minutes long.
Digital arms of the large studios — including CBS Interactive and Univision — also held separate NewFront events. CBS Interactive announced the upcoming launch of several online series based on network shows.
Regardless of what spending ends up looking like, hype was big at the NewFronts. There were celebrity presenters (like Ms. Longoria), goodie bags and even an MC Hammer performance.
In fact, the number of attendees at the AOL upfront outnumbered the spaces available at the Farley Post Office, requiring the company to add an overflow room at a bar across the street. Guests were turned away from the Yahoo presentation at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square (capacity: 2,100) and at Google’s Brandcast at Pier 39 (1,500 guests attended).
As if Upfronts and NewFronts weren’t confusing enough, the Wall Street Journal created a whole new name — NewsFronts. Rather than unveil new series, the Journal’s presentation focused on the brand’s ability to deliver content to any screen across any category.