Univision Sets Virtual Upfront For June 16, Latest to Announce Plan For Advertiser Presentation

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Univision will be presenting its 2020-21 programming plans with advertisers and agencies virtually on June 16, the broadcaster said, the latest to announce a day and time for a upfront that replaces a traditional live event originally scheduled in May but sidetracked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Univision’s head of ad sales and marketing, Steve Mandala, has scheduled a preliminary virutal event tomorrow at at 3pm ET that will be an updated discussion of the company’s business and a Nielsen research presentation.

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With NYC venues dark — from Carnegie Hall to Jazz At Lincoln Center to the Beacon Theater – network upfront presentations are assuming varied shapes and sizes, all virtual, as they navigate spooked clients and stalled production.

The coronavirus has made group gatherings impossible, including for the many hundreds of ad and agency executives that have flocked each May over decades to parades of small screen celebrities, musical acts, comedic riffs, loud sizzle reels and impassioned paeans to the benefits of cross-platform advertising. With NYC venues dark. Things are dramatically different this year but starting to take some shape for an upfront that will be slower and later than usual amid broad speculation that the conventional, September-to-May upfront cycle will give way to a more incremental one or a calendar-year approach.

The $70 billion annual value of the television ad biz has held steady despite significant declines in linear viewing.

Currently there’s a split, with some advertisers ready for business and others are still reeling. As Discovery CEO David Zaslav noted on a conference call Wednesday. “There’s a divide in the market, and you’d expect that. We are talking to all the big players. … More than 50% are saying, ‘We are going to do a regular upfront. The others are saying, ‘Maybe we won’t.” Networks are following cues from marketers and talent on when to start conversations.

The IAB has slated virtual NewFronts – pitches to ad buyers by digital brands – for late June. The move eliminated a splashy showcase that in recent years had bled into the traditional TV upfront period.

As of today, here’s what we know so far. It’s weird, like most things nowadays, but it’s something. This will be updated as more networks firm up their plans.

May 11: NBCUniversal plans an “update” event designed to brief media buyers and the press about the state of its ad-supported efforts. The streaming presentation, set for the date of its original live bash, may not focus all that much on content. It’s calling the presentation a “One Industry Update” – a videoconference featuring executive comments and a “state of the marketplace conversation” with Q&A. Content could be the focus of a later presentation.

May 12: Univision will host a two-part livestream presentation for advertisers where ad sales chief Steve Mandala and other executives will discuss the state of the business and how Univision is supporting clients and brands. It will unveil new primary research with Nielsen on Hispanic consumers. It may not involve content, which would also be the focus of a later presentation.

May 18-19: ViacomCBS network portfolio will have a two-day virtual upfront for advertisers. Viacom’s brands across its Entertainment & Youth and Kids & Family units, plus BET and Pluto TV, will present on May 18. CBS, including streaming service CBS All Access, will have its turn on May 19 and plans to unveil “the fall programming lineup” for the broadcast network, though the grid has been a work in progress given the pandemic’s disruptions.

May 26 – June 1: Disney Advertising Sales will present a Virtual Roadshow – billed as “a concise and customized presentation for advertising agencies and their clients.” The 30-minute video showcase will leverage Disney’s premium talent, content executives and several video compilations to communicate the Disney proposition for the upcoming year. Key points of the plan are said to include: Disney Advertising Sales hosting a customized presentation for each agency holding company along with short “bonus episodes” with additional detail around areas of interest, including advanced advertising capabilities, data+ programmatic offerings and individual brands.

June 16: Univision virtual upfront presentation.

Other initiatives:

WarnerMedia and Xandr: They won’t host any kind of event but has been in ongoing dialogue with advertising partners in real-time since March and is supplementing that with a series of newsletters. Its weekly Solutions Sync newsletter, for instance, spotlights one brand or area of the business each week. Regular updates include including spotlights of each brand, the latest being CNN, where Jeff Zucker (Chairman, WarnerMedia News and Sports & President, CNN Worldwide), and CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dana Bash talk up the centrality of news in today’s environment.

Fox: Also no event planned but it has been hosting custom video presentations between  agency/advertising partners and executives from its entertainment, sports and news divisions since the onset of the stay-at-home orders in late March. That includes custom video conversations between the sports division (with Erik Shanks and Seth Winter) and the entertainment division (with Charlie Collier, Marianne Gambelli and Suzanne Sullivan) and clients. The news division hosted a client event in April, featuring Jeff Collins, Fox News Media leadership, anchors and contributors.

AMC Networks: In April, it launched “Upfront Connect,” a newly created online sales hub that’s a destination to help brands communicate, as well as a one-stop source for all client resources. It includes The Screening Room, an invite-only extensive digital library of AMCN originals for clients to screen full series, preview new content and explore ad opportunities. AMCN’s new branded content studio, The Content Room, offers creative and production capabilities free of charge to any brand that comes on board during this time.

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