With media buyers munching ABC-supplied popcorn, TV Group chief Anne Sweeney starts off the show with a lot of digital talk. ABC, of course, leads in the space, she says, pointing to recent agreements with Time Warner and Cox, which will both offer ABC shows on demand, but prevent ad-skipping.
So far this season, ABC.com's streamed about 100 million episodes of shows to online viewers, notes Sweeney, saying ABC's made "most of the milestone moves in the digital space."
She gives shout-outs to news, daytime and ESPN, and unveils ABC's new "start here" multiplatform navigational slogan.
Sales/Marketing chief Mike Shaw's next. He says television's never been stronger, is everywhere and easy to get. In fact, he says people watch 4 hrs and 35 minutes a day, up 15% from ten years ago and goes on at length about the importance of commercial ratings and how devoted ABC is to making sure viewers stay through them.
Happy to stay with the buzz words, he talks up ABC's viewer engagement. "When you combine all these factors it's easy to see that we are the network that delivers the viewers that you want," he says - families with money.
Entertainment chief Steve McPherson's up next. He thanks the ad community for sticking with the network. He says their priorities are the same as the ad community's-engaging viewers, scheduling shows effectively, and targeting an upscale audience.
ABC's audience, he says, is the most upscale in every demographic. Hmm…sounds a lot like what Bravo would tell you. He says he doesn't focus on technology, but on the "fundamentals of creating appointment television." What, MTV?
Anyway, v cute Ugly Betty dance number set to A Chorus Line's "One." The whole cast, including America, sings.
ABC's new comedy slate doesn't seem to impress the crowd-very few laughs:
Christina Applegate-starring amnesia sitcom 'Sam I Am' prompts an "I'd rather have root canal," from my esteemed seatmate.
Guypal comedy 'Carpoolers' could stand a chance for three episodes-Jerry O'Connell's cute enough.
Second-time-around high school sitcom 'Miss Guided' falls flat.
Even the upfronts' most-buzzed about new show, 'Cavemen,' gets but a smattering of applause.
Jimmy Kimmel, on the other hand, kinda kills, in his fifth year at the upfronts. One year to go and he could go into syndication, he jokes. Paraphrasing the highlights (which were much funnier in rapid-fire succession):
ABC's doing bingo for viewers cut off by complexity of 'Deal or No Deal.'
ABC's got a spinoff of "Grey's Anatomy"-"Grey's Poupon."
ABC takes risks-"Do you realize we put an amputee on a dancing show," he says. "Who else would have the balls to do that?"
ABC bids farewell to Rosie-"You know Rosie O'Donnell is leaving 'The View' and our ABC family to declare herself eligible for the NFL draft," he quips.
"When one door closes, lock it quickly.
Moving on to jabs at the competition, he says just as ABC has announced an end date for Lost, CBS has done a similar thing for Katie Couric. Oh, snap.
Powerhouse shows like 'Law & Order [CI]' are moving to cable, he says. 'Soon NBC itself may be moving to cable.' Double snap.
"The important thing is this: Regis is alive and Paris Hilton is going to jail, he says, closing with the promise that ABC will "keep churning them out and sticking hot doctors in the shower with each other." He throws to a reality montage, calling ABC "America's Bingo Channel."
McPherson pushes Brothers & Sisters hard, bringing out the entire cast to kick off the returning dramas section of the show. Weird clips of characters who died on ABC shows this season are followed The Fray performing that Grey's song "How to Save a Life."
New dramas I'm not handicapping-'Pushing Daisies,' the fairytale about a guy who can kill people and bring them back to life by touching them; 'Private Parctice,' the Grey's spinoff; 'Eli Stone,' the show about the lawyer who wants to change the world; "Cashmere Mafia," the other "Sex and the City" follow-up; "Dirty Sexy Money," the having-it-all-isn't-enough Peter Krause thriller; "Women's Murder Club," the one about, um, women who solve murders; and "Big Shots," the dramedy about four dudes and their marriage woes (ok, fine-this one looks good).
McPherson teases the two-hour Lost show and then the cheeseball-hot, bald British host of Bingo leads the audience in a round for a 50-inch plasma. Some girl from LA takes it. Huge marching band, cheerleaders tons of confetti. So much for scaling back the stage shows. And this one's over-an hour and 40.