After a 2023 upfront season marred by the WGA strike, Warner Bros. Discovery is first out of the gate to declare a return engagement this spring at New York’s Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The media giant confirmed it will host its annual event on Wednesday, May 15, at 10 a.m.
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Last year’s NewFronts for digital and streaming buyers as well as the traditional TV upfronts (with arrivistes YouTube and Netflix) were significantly altered by the guild situation. Talent was scarce and companies, including WBD, stripped down their presentations so that they were carried by a handful of execs, a pivot from the longtime custom of bringing talent onstage to woo ad buyers. The optics of the events across the city were also problematic for the companies, with picket lines set up across town, with the goal of calling wider attention to the guild’s demands.
Even without that backdrop in 2024, mounting an upfront is a complex undertaking for any seller given the rapid shifts in viewer habit and the delicate balancing act of traditional linear TV with streaming. The overall ad landscape, especially for television, has been less than vibrant of late, though this presidential election year has brought fresh optimism. Max, which rebranded from HBO Max last year and added programming from Discovery+, so its advertising tier will be a priority in dealings with advertisers. But the company also has a large cable network portfolio, which can still deliver a large portion of linear TV viewers, offering dwindling but still lucrative assets for large media companies.
Thus far, the other major media companies have yet to confirm their upfront plans.
Jon Steinlauf, Warner Bros. Discovery’s Chief U.S. Advertising Sales Officer, said the upfront presentation will “showcase our innovative advanced advertising solutions, as well as the Max streaming portfolio, which places brands alongside our award-winning series, films, live sports and breaking news.”
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