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Your Upfront FAQ - Broadcasting & Cable

Your Upfront FAQ

There are plenty of questions the industry wants answered this week. Here are a few
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How will the rookies fare?


Not the shows, the executives. “I want to hear the visions of the two new network entertainment presidents,” says former Madison Avenue exec Shari Anne Brill, referring to Bob Greenblatt of NBC and Paul Lee of ABC. (Mark Pedowitz of the CW is too new on the job to have had an impact on his network’s pilots.)

Will someone show an entire pilot?

When a network really believes in a pilot, it will sometimes show the entire pilot to its upfront audience, rather than just show clips of the show’s highlights. ABC did this successfully with Modern Family in 2009. It killed in the room, and the show has not slowed down since.

Will this be NBC’s last lunchtime upfront?

“My guess is this will be the last year you see NBC do a luncheon presentation,” says one buyer. NBC lost its status as the No. 1 network, then gave up its prime position of presenting its schedule on the opening night of the upfronts a few years ago. Fox grabbed the Monday-evening spot and for two years, NBC’s upfront has been held on Monday afternoon. Fox isn’t about to give up its catbird seat. “You’re pretty fresh for the first one,” the buyer says. “Little by little, you lose that intensity and concentration as the week goes on.” Despite that, this buyer says NBC might be better off on Thursday afternoon than Monday before lunch. “The new bosses are going to want to be on an afternoon, if that’s what the competition is doing.”

What is ABC cooking up in the AdLab?

Walt Disney Co.’s Media Networks set up an advertising research lab in 2008 that was designed to test a variety of ad executions, including interactive, split screens, brand integration, sponsorships, addressable advertising, broadband video and mobile devices. ABC could have something to tell buyers about ad effectiveness during its presentation.

Will Simon Cowell appear at Fox’s upfront? Will Paula Abdul sing and dance?

Fox has a tradition of entertaining media buyers with its on-air talent. American Idol finalists have sung. The cast of Glee has performed. This year, Cowell is back on Fox with The X Factor, with Adbul as a judge. Or if Fox really wants excitement, they could have newly hired sports guy Gus Johnson do his often-crazed play-by-play of the entire upfront.

Will Les Moonves—or anyone—take a parting shot at Jeff Zucker?

For nearly a decade, it seemed like CBS boss Les Moonves made an upfront ritual of tweaking Jeff Zucker, his rival at NBC. During CBS presentations, Zucker appeared as a punching bag and as a puppet who smashed through a wall. CBS has been kinder and gentler at its upfronts as its ranking improved, but just last month at the National Association of Broadcasters conference, Moonves took a poke at the former NBC boss, noting, “There’s a difference between a failed programming executive and the model being broken.” So Zucker may be gone. We’ll see if he’s forgotten.

Who won’t be at the upfront?

Rino Scanzoni, who distributes billions in TV ad dollars as chief negotiating officer for GroupM, says he won’t be attending the presentations. “I prefer to take them in online if I can,” Scanzoni says. Why? “Not a fan of shrimp.”

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