NewFronts 2020: YouTube Cancels New York Brandcast Over Coronavirus, Will Stream Event Online

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki
FilmMagic for YouTube

UPDATED: YouTube will not host its annual in-person Brandcast marketing presentation in New York City this year, citing concerns about the coronovirus epidemic. Instead, it will stream the event on the video platform.

YouTube’s Brandcast had been scheduled for April 30, part of the eight-day Digital Content NewFronts series produced by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Following YouTube’s announcement, Twitter, Roku, Verizon Media and ad agency Digitas (one of the founding members of The NewFronts) said they would also move to streaming-only presentations. The fate of most of the other company events slated for NewFronts in the Big Apple is up in the air, as the IAB is urging all participants to switch to streaming.

“Out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our customers, partners and employees, and in alignment with the best practices laid out by the CDC, WHO and other relevant entities regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), YouTube has decided to shift Brandcast to a digital-first event to be premiered on YouTube,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement to Variety.

The NewFronts is currently scheduled for April 27-May 6 at various venues in New York City. It’s the digital-media biz’s version of the TV industry’s upfronts, designed to showcase new programming, formats and advertising capabilities to audiences of brands and agencies.

IAB, in a statement Wednesday, said it “strongly recommend[s] streaming-only productions for all presenters. However, we are committed to supporting the industry and believe that the new streaming option we’re outlining here allows for the most flexibility to serve your specific requirements.”

Other companies scheduled to present at the 2020 NewFronts include Amazon, BBC News, Condé Nast, Ellen Digital, Hulu, Meredith, The New York Times Co., Vice Media Group and Walmart’s Vudu.

According to IAB, NewFronts participants may opt to produce a live, in-person presentation; a fully streamed presentation; or a blend of a live-plus-streamed show. The online presentations can be restricted to allow only qualified attendees to log in. “For those who want their live or pre-produced events open to the world, that option will certainly exist, as well,” the IAB said.

Updated 3/12, 12 p.m. PT: Added that Twitter, Roku, Verizon Media and Digitas also canceled in-person NewFronts events with plans to host streaming presentations.

(Pictured above: YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki at the 2019 Brandcast in New York City.)