Upfronts Download: Disney details diversity, Discovery addresses AT&T deal
Welcome to Upfronts Download, Ad Age’s special pop-up TV upfronts roundup where we bring you breaking news and some of the best (and worst) of TV’s (virtual) dog-and-pony show, curated by Jeanine Poggi, assistant managing editor. Get it in your email by signing up here.
The usual fanfair of the upfronts will be somewhat muted as once again we watch presentations from our home offices. Today, I recreated the upfront experience by lining up the stuffed animals I have received over the years at Discovery’s upfront on my dining room table.
Disney touts diversity
Disney is calling on advertisers to include multicultural commitments in their upfront deals. To this end, the Mouse House used its presentation to unveil programming and ad solutions across its networks and platforms to help brands better reach and more authentically connect with diverse audiences. These initiatives include a cultural index to measure cultural relevance in branded content and advertising; Onyx Collective, a content brand for creators of color on Hulu; investments in HBCUs and students; and partnership with Minorities in Shark Science.
Keeping up with Hulu
The Kardashian clan is coming to Hulu with a new series. Matriach Kris Jenner teased the show during Disney's presentation Tuesday afternoon, saying it will see the family "evolve." While she didn't provide much detail on what's to come, Jenner welcomed advertisers: "We are open to integrations and sponsorships." As though that should surprise anyone.
Kimmel kills it
Jimmy Kimmel returned to the upfronts, once again poking fun at the rising age of TV audiences, advertising jargon and programming misses. Here are some of his best one-liners:
• "CBS viewers can't figure out if 'Blue Bloods' is a TV show or a reverse-mortgage commercial."
• "What do you do when you want to bring more people of color under the tent? You sign a long-term deal with the NHL; white people on ice."
• "We have two types of shows: 'Canceled' and 'Oh, I didn’t know that's still on.'"
• "CBS once again is calling itself the most-watched network, which is like being the most-used fax machine."
• "Why doesn’t NBC just move the Olympics to Chicago like they do every other show?"
• "These are uncertain times, but one thing we can always promise is that this company will always be run by a guy named Bob in an open-collared shirt."
• "Let's call ABC what it really is, Disney Minus."
Elephant in the room
Discovery CEO David Zaslav opened the company’s upfront presentation on Tuesday morning with an unplanned part of the original programming, addressing the stunning deal with AT&T. “Well, I must say, this part of the upfront presentation was not planned,” said Zaslav, who will lead the newly combined company. But the media mogul stopped short of providing any tangible details about the deal, or how it will impact advertisers.
The rest of the presentation reverted back to the rhetoric Discovery is known for—talking up its unscripted content and the white space it fills in the marketplace. But soon, Discovery will need to change that rhetoric as it merges with a scripted juggernaut.
Discovery will look to push advertisers away from the typical 18-49 demographics the industry has long relied on, to embrace older audiences who are still watching linear TV, and is ready to give incentives to advertisers who shift to 18+ and 25+ metrics.
How streaming devalues cable channels
Brands looking to reach niche audiences—such as an auto intender or travel enthusiast—on TV a decade ago relied on cable networks that catered to those types of viewers. But with the ability to now deeply target very specific audiences through streaming platforms, what once made second- or third-tier cable channels attractive for advertisers is now all but obsolete.
Smaller cable networks are up against declining distribution as more viewers cancel their pay-TV subscriptions, which is further pressuring the value for advertisers that are eager to follow these audiences to streaming. As a result, a meaningful percentage of ad dollars that typically goes to long-tail cable networks is expected to shift to digital.
How is the TV industry responding to the streaming wars? On May 24 and May 25 hear from ad sales leaders, agency executives and top brands on the state of the TV ad marketplace and how streaming is poised to reinvent the $20 billion upfront marketplace. RSVP here.
Reaching Hispanic audiences
To aid prospective advertisers in reaching Hispanic consumers, Univision is launching its first brand studio to “combine the best in original brand journalism with industry-leading insights” that will execute on buzzworthy storytelling across the Univision broadcast and social media portfolios.
“The majority of you are not the target, neither am I,” says Donna Speciale, who was named president of sales and marketing earlier this year. But, she said during the company’s presentation on Tuesday afternoon, that shouldn’t limit the ability to see opportunities in the Hispanic marketplace.
The network is also currently developing the industry’s first Hispanic audience data graph to help solve the issue of Latino underrepresentation in industry-standard data sets. “It will help power new, addressable TV beta offerings with Vizio, Dish and others; strengthen Univision’s audience-targeting capabilities; and deliver a cross-platform offering that seamlessly connects brands to targeted consumers across the Univision ecosystem,” the Hispanic-centric network says, noting these new capabilities will begin rolling out in the fourth quarter of this year.
More than 40 media industry watchdogs and public advocacy groups, including Black Lives Matter Global and GLAAD, signed an open letter to Madison Avenue calling on advertisers not to buy Fox News during the upfronts, MediaPost reports.
"Media buyers who aren’t watching Fox News daily are an easy target to get duped by the network’s empty promises of feel-good and fact-based reporting. Instead, protect your client’s brand and reputation so that they are not ruined by Fox News’ gross mismanagement, volatility, and extremism," the letter said.
Fox News told TheWrap in response to the letter: “Fox News is about to close out its fourth consecutive year delivering new records in advertising revenue, so clearly Media Matters’ predictable ongoing partisan attacks have zero impact outside of their irrelevant echo chamber on social media.”
Don’t forget about the content
Alas we forget, at least a part of the upfronts is still about the content. Variety ranked the top trailers from NBCUniversal and Fox upfronts on Monday.
That does it for today’s Upfronts Download. Thanks for reading and we'll be back with another edition tomorrow.
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