Despite Strike, US Networks Continue With Spring 'Upfronts'

18 February 2008

NEW YORK: The annual ritual of America's TV 'upfronts' will continue this spring despite the massive production log-jam caused by the fifteen-week writers' strike.

The yearly showcasing of the latest sitcoms and series accounts for up to 80% of advance sales of the networks' ad capacity for the fall season.

CBS plans a gala shindig at New York's Carnegie Hall on May 14, when it will woo advertisers and agencies with its fall offerings. 

The day following the CBS hoedown, Disney's ABC has hired an almost-as-prestigious location, the Lincoln Center. Also on that date NewsCorp's Fox Network will parade its charms at a yet to be announced venue.

Uncertainty, however, surrounds NBC Universal's upfront plans. During the tenure of the writers' strike the broadcaster had threatened to quit the Rite of Spring in favor of a series of individual presentations to key marketers and agencies.

As yet, it's not known if NBC ceo Jeff Zucker intends to do just that – or revert to the staus quo.

If the 2008 upfronts prove to be the terminal gasp of an exhausted event, there are unlikely to be many clientside mourners.

As long ago as May 2006, healthcare giant Johnson & Johnsonquit the carnival. Word on the block is that others are poised to do the same.

Data sourced from USA Today; additional content by WARC staff