A+E switches focus from upfront to corporate social responsibility amid COVID-19
A+E Networks had plans to stream its upfront presentation this week after canceling its in-person event due to the coronavirus outbreak. But it has since rejiggered its strategy—as the situation has quickly evolved, so has A+E’s plans.
A+E had originally touted an "innovative" new virtual experience for its upfront, but it seems what will result will be more subdued.
While A+E will send out a video showcasing its new programming to agencies and clients this week, much of its rhetoric will instead be around its corporate social responsibility outreach during COVID-19. It has decided not to release new programming announcements or its upfronts video to the press.
“We have chosen to lean into our [corporate social responsibility] DNA at this time, focusing on doing all we can to help our partners during this new shared reality,” said Peter Olsen, exec VP, ad sales, A+E Networks. “As such, the A+E Networks upfront showcase presentations will be wholly client-led; we recognize the different situations each brand is facing, and we’ll exercise extreme flexibility – and humanity – to deliver our programming updates with them when and how they are ready.”
Part of these efforts include providing educational materials to students who are learning remotely. The organization is sharing free classroom resources and study guides on History.com and making some History Vault programming is available for free for teachers.
As it relates to its upfront messaging, A+E is one of several TV network groups hoping media buyers and their clients will think differently about buying against traditional demographics.
A+E will look to do deals on audiences 18-plus instead of capping it at 18-to-49 to reflect an older audience on linear TV that has spending power, Olsen says. The company will also ask marketers to be flexible in where they get younger audiences, a group that is increasingly watching content on other platforms.
“We’re not saying you can’t do business as usual, but the rate of change will be different and the volume we can take will be different,” Olsen says.
In some instances, Olsen says A+E will guarantee 90 percent of a deal on audiences aged 18-to-49 and the other 10 percent on broader demographics.