CBS and NBCU cancel live ad pitch events because of coronavirus

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CBS Corp. signage is displayed outside of the company’s headquarters in New York.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

CBS and NBCUniversal said Thursday they will no longer hold live “upfront” presentations for the advertising community this spring, instead opting to release video presentations. 

During the “upfronts,” media companies pitch advertisers on their upcoming shows and advancements in their ad tools. In years’ past, the glitzy events have been held at large venues like Radio City Music Hall and Carnegie Hall, with celebrity appearances and performances from popular musicians. 

The cancellations come just days after the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) said Wednesday it recommended companies holding “NewsFronts” events in New York City during April and May present online instead of in person. YouTube and Twitter so far have said they’ll stream their events in lieu of live events. NewsFronts are digital media’s answer to the traditional TV “upfronts.”

CBS said Tuesday its live presentation at Carnegie Hall will be canceled in favor of a “video Upfront special” that will feature network executives and CBS talent unveiling the 2020-2021 primetime lineup and “unique content from CBS Entertainment, CBS News, CBS Sports and CBS All Access.” The special will be posted to digital platforms on May 13. 

“Important information and insights normally shared during ViacomCBS client dinners and presentations scheduled for March and April will instead be delivered digitally via video and other formats,” the company said in an emailed press release.

NBCU said Thursday its May 11 event would be cancelled due to “health concerns” and will televise and stream its upfront presentation. 

“NBCUniversal’s new Upfront Presentation will feature talent from across its portfolio and platform, and will preview new programming announcements, trailers and more, from Entertainment to Sports to News,” the company said. “Tune-in and programming details will be announced at a later date.”

The new cancellations come after upfront events in March for AMC Networks, A+E Networks, Fox News and FreeWheel were moved online or canceled.

Roku said in a statement Thursday it’s also moving its “NewFront” from a live, in-person presentation to be streaming-only. 

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC.

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