Fox, ABC and The CW — like CBS and NBC — have decided to scrap their annual live Fall TV Upfront presentations, due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.
On Monday, May 11, Fox will “host a digital presentation for the advertising community to preview the latest programming and schedule,” instead of trotting out stars and numbers wonks at the Beacon Theatre. On Thursday, May 14, The CW will forgo a star-studded affair at the New York City Center to instead pursue “an alternative plan to communicate its strategy and schedule to ad buyers and industry journalists.”
Meanwhile, a Disney Advertising Sales spokeswoman said, “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” — for assets including ABC and Hulu.
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 splashy presentations by NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS and The CW, touting their respective portfolios.
“In light of recent developments and the current guidelines being set by health officials regarding COVID-19, The CW Network has decided to forgo its traditional live upfront presentation… as we join the community’s efforts to ensure that everyone’s health and safety is our top priority,” the network said in a statement. “As a result, we are currently exploring alternative and innovative ways of communicating The CW’s overall strategy, showcase our new and returning programming and present our upcoming fall schedule to advertisers, press, the industry and our fans. We will be sharing additional details as we move forward.”
ABC has yet announced its current plan for the mid-May Upfronts.
Rejiggered Upfront presentations 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.