Paramount’s breezy ad pitch was the antithesis to the CBS dog-and-pony shows of yore.
Following a few days of lengthy ad pitches, Paramount decided to keep its presentation short with a “60 Minutes”-themed upfront at New York’s Carnegie Hall late Wednesday afternoon. The entertainment giant stressed repeatedly that it would not be holding its audience hostage for longer than an hour—though it did go slightly over.
It was the first upfront hoopla for the media giant under its new moniker after it rebranded from ViacomCBS in February. While the venue was the same as its pre-pandemic affair, the presentation itself looked different than its usual CBS-centric pitch.
Paramount ad sales chief Jo Ann Ross didn’t don an LED dress or make an entrance through the ceiling, as she has done in prior years. The presentation relied heavily on pre-recorded segments; Fox similarly gathered marketing executives and agency leaders earlier this week to watch pre-taped videos with network executives.
The format was a collection of interview segments (à la “60 Minutes”) and skits peppered with celebrity appearances by actors plugging shows. A sketch about Carnegie Hall being haunted—with Ross joking it was the reason Paramount could afford the venue—turned into an onstage musical number featuring the leads of the CBS sitcom “Ghosts,” while a fictional game show plugged metrics about streaming services Pluto and Paramount+.
As for the programming highlights during one of this week’s shortest presentations—fatigued buyers could be heard expressing their gratitude for the relative brevity—reality and unscripted featured heavily, following a similar trend from rivals NBCUniversal and Warner. Bros Discovery. “Yellowstone” and “1882” got ample attention, but the biggest star of Paramount’s event by far was Sylvester Stallone, who sent the audience into a roar of applause when he appeared onstage to plug his new series “Tulsa King.”
The company made a quick mention of its CBS fall primetime lineup; the Eye network historically spent the bulk of its presentation walking through every time slot. Fall schedules were downplayed this week, with most network groups glossing over or leaving them out entirely as they focused on their streaming efforts and content across channels.
“The Late, Late Show” host James Corden, who will end his late-night talker next spring, acknowledged his impending departure. “I’ve loved being part of the CBS family. I love being part of the Viacom family. I love being part of the ViacomCBS family. I love being part of the Paramount Global family, and I love being part of whatever name they give us next week,” he riffed.