While last year’s upfront season was unprecedented because of its virtual format and pandemic-induced cancellations, this year’s virtual media buying frenzy is notable for a different reason: It is the first since brands and TV networks have taken heed of the ongoing social justice movement in the U.S. and positioned themselves as champions of racial equality like never before.
With that renewed focus on diversity—sparked by George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police one year ago this month—media buyers have come to pay special attention to Black, Latinx and Asian audiences. These consumers, long regarded as afterthoughts by ad strategists or believed to have been represented in general buys, are now being seen for what they are: a large and growing portion of the American population with trillions in buying power who deserve tailor-made attention from brands.
Smaller networks that target specific communities are commanding a louder voice than ever during the 2021 upfront season. Here are five multicultural networks looking to take a bigger slice of the $20 billion in upfront ad commitments: