More SXSW cancelations: Apple, Netflix, IBM and WarnerMedia, including HBO
Apple, Netflix, IBM and WarnerMedia, including HBO, are the latest big names to drop out of SXSW.
“As a precaution, WarnerMedia has decided it's best not to move forward with activations at SXSW,” a company spokesperson said. “We look forward to seeing everyone in Austin next year.”
HBO has done massive activations at SXSW in years past that have attracted a lot of attention, including its “Westworld” experience in 2018 that even Elon Musk visited; and “bleed for the throne,” the “Game of Thrones” blood drive. Both of those activations were done by agency Giant Spoon. The agency did not return a request for comment.
A few of the media and entertainment company's executives were also expected to speak at the festival, including WarnerMedia Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt, who was scheduled to discuss HBO Max's strategy to expand into new streaming territory alongside MediaLink Chairman-CEO Michael Kassan.
The Independent reported that Netflix and Apple have also dropped out. The companies did not return requests for comment. The report said Netflix planned to host five film screenings and a panel, all of which have been canceled, while Apple's scheduled SXSW events included a debut of a new series expected to come to Apple TV+ later this year.
Meanwhile, The Statesman reported tech giant IBM has canceled its plans to attend SXSW due to a company-wide travel restriction that bars anyone from attending events with more than 1,000 attendees.
And yet, SXSW organizers and Austin City officials say the festival slated for March 13-22 is still on.
Dr. Mark Escott, medical director for Austin Public Health, said at a press conference yesterday that there is “no evidence that closing SXSW or other activities would make [the] community safer.” He said SXSW organizers were working to keep festival goers safe by screening all employees to ensure they are not ill before working; providing additional hand-washing stations and hand sanitizers; and placing signs around the festival to remind people to practice proper hygiene.
Escott said Austin Public Health was also assessing ways to “lessen social contact” by possibly reducing the number of people allowed into venues.
Meanwhile, numerous other industry events have been canceled, postponed or moved online due to the coronavirus outbreak, such as Shoptalk; Adobe Summit 2020; Dubai Lynx, the Middle East creative festival owned in part by Cannes Lions parent Ascential; and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Fox News also became the first media company to cancel its upfront.
Ad Age put together a Coronavirus Industry Event Tracker, where you can keep tabs on the latest developments around events being canceled, postponed or moved online.