05/19/23: Cynopsis Upfront Week Wrap-up


Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read
Friday May 19, 2023

Cynopsis Upfront Week Wrap-up

It’s a wrap for the Upfront week. But the year everything was supposed to get back to normal, it didn’t. The Writers Guild of America strike hit, and instead of star-studded events emceed by late night hosts, we had picketers outside venues, and news anchors and unscripted celebs gamely helping network execs showcase plans for the 2023-24 season (“If you squint a little bit, I could be Colin Jost,” joked NBC’s Willie Geist). Netflix was supposed to hold its first-ever Upfront event at the Paris Theater, but threw in the towel at the last minute to go virtual.

Adding an air of the surreal to the week, NBCUniversal kicked things off without longtime advertising chief Linda Yaccarino, whose shocking decampment for Twitter just days before certainly had interest piqued. Despite it all, events drew appreciative crowds, entertained – Disney had a swarm of 100 samurai storm the aisles to promote Hulu’s “Shogun” – and, most importantly, showcased promising programming and robust advertising offerings. But change is in the air.


One company missing was Paramount Global, which announced back in December it was forgoing the hoopla for small gatherings with advertisers. Paramount’s Advertising President John Halley, perhaps presciently, told staffers in a memo back then, “the event needs to evolve to meet this moment.” Halley is pleased with his company’s scaled-down approach, saying they’ve had “great success” with intimate events. So what innovations has Paramount been sharing with advertisers? “We have a new, first-to-market convergent optimization tool that extends total reach and manages frequency for advertising partners across their linear and digital buys,” said Halley. “It’s born from our leading advanced targeting product, Vantage, and ensures that advertisers get maximum value out of their dollars. Vantage is increasingly becoming part of our core offering and has made our base product far more compelling and a lot better.”

Other companies are taking a wait-and-see attitude. As long as our clients continue to make Upfront Week a priority and gather together as an industry to support it, Warner Bros. Discovery will continue to have a presence,” said Laura Galietta, EVP of Integrated Ad Sales Marketing, WBD. “Whatever the format, we will always welcome the opportunity to reinforce the power of WBD and demonstrate how we can help our partners realize their goals.”

For Brian Joyce, EVP, Ad Sales, A+E Networks, it’s all about flexibility. “A+E Networks is fortunate to have built a multiplatform content company with strong linear brands in A&E, The HISTORY Channel and Lifetime that succeed across every platform. We take pride in setting industry trends by offering guarantees, leveraging data, and staying ahead of the curve, with a customer service approach rooted in flexibility and being always on,” said Joyce. “In today’s complex upfront environment every member of our team understands the need for custom solutions, and are committed to delivering these solutions with a diversity of content and a multitude of options to achieve our partners’ objectives.”


While there is much debate in the industry about whether the Upfront is still relevant, “The Upfront isn’t going away,” said Adam Monaco, EVP of Sales, Disney Advertising. “If it was, we wouldn’t have new entrants in the space each year. The Upfront continues to be a leading event in the advertising industry, driven by clients and agencies. With ever-growing demand for live sports, entertainment and tentpole events, I believe clients will always have an appetite for securing and showing up in these important cultural moments that engage fans and consumers in the most premium, brand-safe environments. This demand spans any premium video property inclusive of our addressable platforms.”

Looking into the crystal ball for the 2024 Upfronts, Richie Hyden, co-founder, president and COO of IRIS.TV, said, “There will be more currencies being used, not less. Advancements in AI are already providing more accurate analysis of content at the video level. As these currencies lean into these capabilities, more precise targeting and measurement solutions will be available and activated through content identifiers.”

No matter how the Upfront period shifts, media companies will always find ways to tout upcoming programming. New series orders and previews this week included:

ABC: Drama “High Potential”; unscripted series “The Golden Bachelor”
CBS: Comedy “Poppa’s House”; dramas “Elsbeth” and “Matlock”
The CW: Dramas “Joan” and “The Librarians: The Next Chapter” and “Swarm”; unscripted series “Patti Stanger: Millionaire Matchmaking” (w/t), “The Force” (w/t) and “The Great American Bakeover” (w/t)
Disney+: Marvel series “Secret Invasion,” and “Echo”
FOX: Comedies “Krapopolis” and “Grimsburg”; dramas “Doc” and “Rescue: HI Surf”; unscripted series “Snake Oil” and “We Are Family”
Hulu: Drama “Black Cake”
NBC: Comedy “Extended Family”; dramas “Found” and “The Irrational”; unscripted series “The Americas,” an untitled “America’s Got Talent” edition; and “Deal or No Deal Island”
Netflix: Dramas “3 Body Problem,” “Blue Eye Samurai,” “The Fall of the House of Usher”; comedies “Exploding Kittens,” “Obliterated,” “Neon” and “The Vince Staples Show”; unscripted competitions “Surviving Paradise” and “Squid Game: The Challenge”; documentaries “Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul” and “Life on Our Planet”
Telemundo: Dramas “El Conde: Amor y Honor” and “Vuelve a Mí”
TelevisaUnivision: Drama “El Extrano Retorno De Diana Salazar”; unscripted series “Mira Quien Baila,” “De Noche Pero Sin Sueno,” and “Hotel VIP.”
Warner Bros. Discovery: For Food Network, two series starring Selena Gomez, “Best Bite in Town,” and competition series “The Elf on the Shelf: Sweet Showdown” (w/t); travel series “Conan Must Go” for Max; a true crime series with Michael Bay for ID; a Discovery series about saving gorillas starring Ellen DeGeneres


Memorable quotes…
“We are just getting started.” – Peter Naylor, VP of global ad sales, Netflix

“I don’t think ‘acquisition’ is a bad word.” – Brad Schwartz, president of entertainment for The CW

“I’ve heard from so many of you over the past 72 hours. And I can’t tell you how much that means.” Mark Lazarus, NBCU chairman of TV and streaming, referencing the exit of Linda Yaccarino

“Our core commitment to delivering the news truthfully, transparently and without fear or favor.” – Chris Licht, chairman and CEO, CNN Worldwide

And it’s over and out for Upfront week 2023! We’ll be sharing updates on programming, advertising and more in your daily edition of Cynopsis.

Cynopsis Team

Lynn Leahey
Editorial Director

Kerry Smith
Division President
Access Intelligence

Robbie Caploe
VP/Group Publisher

Executive Director of Sales
Albert Nassour
Cynopsis Job Listings Sales
John Cox


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