NBCUniversal Sets Streaming Presentation to Ad Buyers

New York's Rockefeller Plaza- NBC - Getty - H 2020
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NBCUniversal has invited advertisers to a conversation about the "state of the marketplace" in May.

An invitation sent Friday to media buyers said the one-hour video presentation will take place May 11, the date NBCUniversal had initially set for its upfront presentation. The company, along with all other major media conglomerates, canceled its traditional upfront in March as the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic.

With the invite that went out Friday, NBCU is the first media giant to schedule a presentation for May. The invitation says the presentation will offer updates on its One Platform initiative for selling ad inventory across platforms, followed by a question-and-answer session.

"On May 11, NBCUniversal's Advertising and Partnership leadership is hosting a video call open to all — marketers, agencies, technology providers, trade bodies, press and more. We will be sharing the state of the marketplace, provide developments on One Platform, unveil new offerings and more," NBCU said in a statement.

Sources stressed that the May 11 presentation is not meant as a replacement for NBCUniversal's upfront, which may still happen at a date to be determined. The video call is unlikely to resemble a traditional upfront presentation, with its parade of talent and executives and first looks at new series ordered for the coming season. Most pilots ordered with an eye toward the 2020-21 season weren't completed before the pandemic shut down production. NBC does have four episodes of its Tina Fey-Ted Danson comedy The Mayor, which it ordered straight to series, already wrapped, and it has ordered additional scripts for several other potential series. 

Several TV executives told The Hollywood Reporter in early April that amid the pandemic, plans for how and when to present to advertisers have been constantly in flux. There has been some discussion of upfronts starting in late May, with one media company taking the socially distanced stage per week. But with the country still largely at a standstill, concrete plans are difficult to make.

Delays in upfront presentations would also move back the start of negotiations between the media conglomerates and ad buyers for the upfront market, which usually are concentrated a few weeks after the network presentations.

Disney, WarnerMedia and Fox have yet announce plans for virtual presentations. ViacomCBS still hopes to make a presentation to advertisers in May but hasn't yet set a date.