Discovery Communications won't parade Oprah Winfrey, "Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro or any of the "Little People" in front of media buyers and advertisers this spring after all.
The cable group is skipping its usual glitzy upfront -- the parties for ad buyers that are the industry standard for pitching upcoming TV programming -- and instead will host individual meetings with agencies and clients, a company spokeswoman said. The idea is to enable a more personalized conversation with key executives and a more one-to-one experience, she said.
Discovery's abandonment of the longtime pitch-and-party model comes following last year's lackluster upfront marketplace, when advertisers pared down their committments and decided to make more buys closer to air time in the so-called scatter market. While cable had been a particular area of growth in the TV marketplace, ad dollars there declined for the first time in four years during the 2014 upfront. According to the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau total ad bookings dropped 6% to $9.6 billion from the year prior.
Turner Broadcasting is also taking a different approach to this year's upfront. The cable group said last month that it will have one big event for all of its channels, which include TNT and TBS, CNN and Cartoon Network. Previously, Turner had held individual presentations for several of its networks.