CBS and NBC are the first broadcast-TV networks to officially change up plans for their annual upfront presentations to advertisers, due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.
Rather than being held live at Carnegie Hall, where stars (and executives) were paraded in front of an audience of hundreds, the 2020-21 primetime lineups from CBS and CBS All Access will be revealed to ad buyers and industry journalists via a video special to be posted to digital platforms on Wednesday, May 13.
NBC Universal will do same, on Monday, May 11, streaming for ad buyers and journos a special that will feature talent from across its portfolio, previewing new programming announcements, trailers and more.
Already this Upfront season, several cable and streaming outlets had moved or cancelled their own presentations planned for earlier in the spring. Mid-May, however, is reserved for the star-studded presentations by NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS and The CW and their respective portfolios.
“CBS has a very good story to tell, and this year we need a unique way to tell it,” CBS Entertainment chief Kelly Kahl said in a statement. “We’re confident that this alternate format for this year can deliver what we’ve come to expect from a CBS Upfront – entertainment, stars, strategy and the first look at our new primetime series.”
NBCUniversal Chairman of Advertising & Partnerships, Linda Yaccarino, meanwhile said, “At this moment in time, we can embrace a new future that puts our audiences and our partners first. This year’s Upfront Presentation will ensure everyone’s safety, while allowing us to give fans and marketers a preview of the upcoming season.”
Rejiggered Upfront plans are but the latest example of how the global coronavirus outbreak is affected TV shows and industry events, with more than 1,000 cases now reported in the United States. Survivor and The Amazing Race have delayed production on upcoming seasons; shows like The Tonight Show and Jeopardy! have begun filming without a live audience; and Riverdale has temporarily halted production after a crew member came in contact with a person who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.