×

NewFronts Exodus Continues: Warner Bros. and Machinima Back Out, AOL to Hold Private Client Meetings

This year’s Digital Content NewFronts hype-fest — the online video biz’s answer to the TV upfronts — is losing more steam, as a number of companies are opting to use their marketing dollars instead for private pitches to advertisers.

Warner Bros. Digital Networks, which includes its Machinima fanboy and gamer digital network, has canceled its session at the NewFronts in New York, which had been scheduled for Friday, May 5, at 9 a.m.

“We have decided to postpone our NewFronts presentation so we can focus on presenting an even more immersive and comprehensive unveiling of the Warner Bros. Digital Networks to our Warner Bros. family, our partners, and our loyal fans, early this summer,” the company said in a statement.

Verizon-owned AOL, meanwhile, said it will be holding “closed-door client meetings” at this year’s NewFronts instead of the usual large event. “We’ve always enjoyed innovating around the NewFronts — first as a founding partner and then with a first-of-its-kind experiential NewFront in 2016,” AOL said in a statement. “We value our deep relationship with the IAB and look forward to our continued work together.”

The pullbacks come after BuzzFeed, Fullscreen Media and Yahoo (another NewFronts founding member) each pulled out of the lineup, and Studio71 nixed its in-person presentation in NYC but says it’s going to hold a “virtual” NewFronts presentation online instead.

At the same time, the NewFronts have attracted some new faces, too: Twitter jumped at the chance to take over Yahoo’s May 1 evening slot. Other recent additions to the schedule include BBC.com, MediaLink, Astronauts Wanted and Uproxx Media.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau, the trade group that manages the annual event, tried to downplay the impact of the cancellations. “Historically, we have always seen shifts in the schedule — albeit not always this close to the event itself,” said Anna Bager, IAB’s SVP and GM of mobile and video. She added that last year’s NewFronts “attracted droves of marketers and media buyers with intent to allocate budget — and from what we’re hearing from the 2017 presenters, this year should be no different on that score.”

And, of course, not everyone is fleeing the NewFronts. “Most advertisers experience our brand online, so it makes a big difference when a client can touch and feel us ‘IRL,'” said David Grant, president of Popsugar Studios, which is presenting on May 3.

Other companies still slated to present include Hulu, YouTube, AwesomenessTV, Bloomberg Media, Business Insider, Conde Nast Entertainment, Defy Media, DigitasLBi, Disney Media-Maker Studios, Group Nine Media, Hearst Digital Media, the New York Times, Time Inc., Turner and Vice Media.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • fundo logo

    Google‘s Area 120 Is Testing Fundo, a Crowdfunding Service for Creators (EXCLUSIVE)

    Google’s skunkworks lab Area 120 has been quietly testing an events-centric crowdfunding service for YouTubers, Variety has learned. Called Fundo, the service allows creators to invite their fans to virtual meet & greet sessions and other paid online events. A Google spokesperson confirmed the testing in a statement provided to Variety: “One of the many [...]

  • Telling Lies - Logan Marshall-Green

    Sam Barlow's 'Telling Lies' Government-Surveillance Thriller Game Sets Release Date

    After more than two years in the works, “Telling Lies” — the investigative thriller from acclaimed game creator Sam Barlow — is ready to take the stage. The game, produced with and released by Annapurna Interactive, will be available next Friday, Aug. 23, via Steam and Apple’s Mac and iOS app stores. “Telling Lies” will [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Will Stop Letting Copyright Holders Seize Revenue via Manual Claims on Very Short Music Clips

    YouTube is pushing back against overzealous copyright policing by music companies. Starting in mid-September, the video giant will forbid copyright holders from making manual claims to commandeer revenue generated by YouTube videos that include very short music clips (e.g., five seconds of a song) or “unintentional” music (like music from passing cars). “One concerning trend [...]

  • Chelsea Handler memoir book buy online

    Chelsea Handler Bonds With Alexa in iHeartRadio Smart Speaker Promo

    iHeartRadio has teamed up with Amazon to promote Chelsea Handler’s podcast “Life Will Be The Death Of Me.” Beginning this Thursday, users of Amazon’s Echo smart speaker and other devices with Alexa built-in can opt to get their mornings started with Handler cracking jokes and exchanging banter with the smart assistant. Users simply have to [...]

  • David Messinger, Activision Blizzard

    Activision Blizzard Hires CAA Veteran David Messinger as CMO

    Activision Blizzard tapped David Messinger, a former 15-plus-year veteran of CAA, as its first corporate-wide chief marketing officer. Messinger, based in Santa Monica, reports to Coddy Johnson, Activision Blizzard’s president and COO. It’s the first time the video-game company has appointed a CMO who will oversee the global marketing operations across all of Activision Blizzard [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content