The CW will joins the parade of TV networks returning to in-person upfronts, with a presentation slated for Thursday, May 19 in New York City. Time will tell whether the network will present as a joint venture of ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia or under the aegis of a new corporate owner.
The home of “Riverdale,” “The Flash” and “Walker” will present its next programming lineup to advertisers at New York City Center Theater in midtown Manhattan, with executives and actors present. The confab marks the CW’s return to the venue for the first time in two years after the coronavirus pandemic scuttled most mass events. The CW’s parent companies jhave held discussions with large TV-station owner Nexstar Media Group about the possibility of selling off a significant stake in the broadcast outlet, which was formed by combining the old WB and UPN networks in 2006.
While some media companies are shaking up the way they approach the kickoff to TV’s annual ad-sales market, CW will not. ViacomCBS and NBCUniversal also intend to tread familiar terrain by holding their upfront events at its longtime perches ,like Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall, respectively. Disney and Fox, meanwhile are moving to new venues in hopes of conducting a presentation with a more intimate feel.
All the TV companies are navigating a return to in-person meetings after two years of using virtual connections during the pandemic. During the upfront, U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their commercial inventory in advance of their next cycle of programming.
TV networks have more than just TV ads to sell. A significant chunk of the ad dollars once earmarked for linear primetime TV has migrated to streaming services that include Disney’s Hulu, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, NBCU’s Peacock, Fox’s Tubi, ViacomCBS’ Paramount Plus and Discovery’s Discovery Plus. According to Variety estimates, NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox and the CW secured between $8.2 billion and $10.1 billion for their 2021-2022 primetime schedules, compared with between $8.2 billion and $9.8 billion for their 2020-2021 offerings, but down significantly from the 2019-2020 cycle, which was less affected by the pandemic.