A+E Networks Shifts From Live to Virtual Upfronts as Coronavirus Precaution

Paul Buccieri speaks onstage during the 2019 A+E Networks Upfront - GETTY -H 2019
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

A+E Networks is scrapping its live upfront presentation as a precaution in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic.

The cable group will instead make virtual presentations to advertisers and agencies starting the week of March 23.

"Our sales force looks forward to bringing the A+E Networks’ virtual upfront presentation directly to our clients in a new way," said A+E Networks Group president Paul Buccieri. "We’re ready to showcase our portfolio of high-performing mega-brands, recapping some of the amazing success we’ve had in the last year, previewing upcoming shows we’re excited about, introducing our incredible roster of talent, and outlining our plans for 2021 across A&E, History and Lifetime. 

"The health, safety and well-being of our clients, colleagues and our industry is our top priority. A+E Networks is leaning in to our culture of flexibility — one of the business mandates to operate in today’s world, and certainly a necessity underscored in our current environment."

A+E Networks had scheduled its upfront for March 25 at New York's Lincoln Center. It was among the earliest of the cable presentations. Comcast's Freewheel Media postponed its scheduled March 12 event, leaving only AMC Networks, currently scheduled for March 18, slated for March. AMC has yet to say whether it's making alternate plans or going ahead as scheduled. 

The coronavirus epidemic is responsible for 22 deaths so far in the United States, with at least 565 diagnosed cases as of publication time. The outbreak has led to big drops in the stock market, and in the entertainment industry has led to the cancellation of the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, a delay in the release for James Bond movie No Time to Die and a postponement of the AFI's annual Life Achievement Award gala, among other events.