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In a major change to TV’s upfront week calendar, Paramount Global says that it will not hold its traditional presentation at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 2023.
Instead, per a memo from Paramount ad sales chief John Halley, the company “will be hosting a series of high-impact, intimate gatherings in April for each of our major agency partners and their clients in lieu of our traditional presence at Carnegie Hall. We believe this expanded format will prove more effective in facilitating our upcoming Upfront discussions.”
2022 marked a return to normal for TV’s upfront business, with all the major networks hosting in-person events for the first time since before the pandemic in 2019. Paramount held its traditional event at Carnegie Hall, though it scheduled an abbreviated presentation at a brisk 60 minutes (in honor of the iconic CBS newsmagazine … though the presentation went long by about 10 minutes).
Paramount bowing out of the 2023 upfront week calendar marks a major shift, with the company (and CBS before it) having held the fort at Carnegie Hall for decades.
“This continues to be a transformative period for our industry, and at Paramount, we know that new realities call for new approaches,” Halley wrote in his memo. “The same principle goes for our 2023 Upfront presentation. As media investment becomes more complex, the event needs to evolve to meet this moment.”
Already, one of Paramount’s competitors has committed to return to upfront week, with NBCUniversal ad sales chief Linda Yaccarino writing in her year-end note that her company will kick off the week with its Monday morning Radio City Music Hall presentation, followed by Telemundo’s evening celebration.
While 2022 marked a return to in-person events, it did spark some changes to the presentations, with Fox pursuing a hybrid event in lower Manhattan and Disney leaving Lincoln Center for an event space on the Lower East Side. It is not yet clear whether those companies will return to their previous upfront homes, or follow Paramount in opting out of the week altogether.
In addition, in 2022 nearly every company (including Paramount) de-emphasized broadcast TV in favor of streaming offerings, acknowledging where the entertainment business is going.
The upfront change is one of the first major moves made by Halley, who took over the company’s ad sales business from Jo Ann Ross earlier this year. His experience in both digital and linear advertising was cited as an advantage by Paramount CEO Bob Bakish, with Halley tasked with more tightly integrating the company’s ad sales business.
“Our targeted approach is intended to encourage conversation with our most trusted partners — to hear directly from the agencies and advertisers we serve and who form the bedrock of our business,” Halley wrote. “We also have a fantastic story to tell about the power of our popular portfolio and enhanced offerings, and the earlier timing will increase share of voice, in a more fitting setting for deeper engagement.”
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The Last of Us