Networks Cancel Upfronts. Does It Matter?

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All The Canceled Upfronts

ViacomCBS, NBCU, WarnerMedia/Xandr and Roku all said Thursday that, due to fears around COVID-19, they’re canceling their live upfront events in favor of video presentations. Read more. The upfronts weren’t the only big events affected. The ANA canceled its Media Conference, which was scheduled for later this month in Florida. “The decision was based on an abundance of caution and the overriding desire to maintain the safety and well-being of our conference attendees, members, speakers, sponsors and staff, all of whom are of paramount importance to the ANA,” the org said in a statement. COVID-19 has also wormed its way into another big advertising venue: major sporting events. The NBA suspended the season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the disease, followed by the NHL and Major League Soccer halting all games and MLB suspending spring training and delaying Opening Day. Utah guard Donovan Mitchell also tested positive. Read it.


Does it even matter that the star-studded, perks-packed TV upfronts and NewFronts have been called off? “It will have no impact on the marketplace,” one agency executive tells Digiday. If anything, the real question is: What happens next year, when the curtain’s been drawn and broadcasters know they’ll get the same deals without renting an NYC stage and throwing a huge event? Advertisers in categories such as travel, media and entertainment will cut back their upfront budgets as they do a hard reset on sales and spending this year, but the normal agency deal-making is already underway. And legacy brands have their own reasons to stick with upfront buys. “The next couple weeks will be really telling if clients are going to be cautious going into the upfront,” the agency exec said. More.


Entertainment companies and movie studios are likely to join categories such as OOH, travel and hospitality that have seen ad budgets evaporate because of the coronavirus. Movie theaters remain open in the United States, but public sentiment indicates more people support closures with growing support for “social distancing.” Some US movie studios are rescheduling releases, putting movie marketing dollars in flux and causing ripple effects at distributors like WarnerMedia and Comcast’s NBCUniversal. “No Time To Die,” “Peter Rabbit 2” and “A Quiet Place 2” have all had their theatrical releases pushed back. “I think it’s going to be hit in the way that cruise lines or out-of-home amusements are hit,” Tom Nunan, a lecturer at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, tells CNBC. “I don’t think it is something that is easily replaced.” More.

Corona In The Cloud

It’s not possible to get through an earnings call without at least a little coronavirus talk. Oracle, which reported its Q3 2020 fiscal year results after the market closed on Thursday, emphasized the growth of its recurring subscription-based revenue as insulation against global, market-crushing crises such as coronavirus. Total revenue for the quarter was $9.8 billion, most of which came from subscriptions, a 5% YoY uptick. “Seventy-one percent of the business we had in the quarter was contracted before the quarter began,” Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison told investors. And Oracle doesn’t expect that growth to slow down, virus or no virus. The company is forecasting total subscription revenue in Q4 to increase between 3% and 5% in both constant currency and US dollars. The company’s stock was up nearly 2% in after-hour’s trading. There’s more in the full financial release.

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