Some things just don’t change. CBS and Carnegie Hall go together during TV’s upfront week like Roger Daltrey singing the refrain to a Who song, which he once performed at one of CBS’ glitzy events.
While some media companies are shaking up the way they approach the kickoff to TV’s annual ad-sales market, ViacomCBS is not. The company intends to hold its presentation at the storied New York venue on May 18, charting a return to some semblance of TV operations as they were conducted before the advance of the coronavirus pandemic. NBCUniversal also intends to tread familiar terrain by holding its upfront event at its longtime perch at Radio City Music Hall. 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. Even so, ViacomCBS plans to live-stream its event so people who are more comfortable away from crowds can watch as well. During the upfront, U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their commercial inventory in advance of their next cycle of programming.
“We’re thrilled to return to the iconic stage at Carnegie Hall this year and spotlight the power of ViacomCBS in what will surely be a show-stopping event,” said Jo Ann Ross, president and chief advertising revenue officer, ViacomCBS Domestic Advertising Sales, in a statement. “We look forward to delivering an entertaining and informative presentation that addresses the dynamic needs of our clients, which is absolutely critical as the marketplace continues to transform at a rapid pace.”
The TV companies 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.