Yesterday evening Discovery Communications held its annual upfront presentation, wooing advertisers and media buyers, while previewing upcoming programming and networks.
With a suite of channels that includes Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, there was plenty of ground to cover.
Luckily, they had Oprah there to sell it.
Yes, talk show queen turned media mogul Oprah Winfrey herself was in attendance at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and revealed the 2011/2012 OWN programming slate on stage.
She was joined by Rosie O’Donnell, who will be making her return to daytime with a talk show on OWN later this year. O’Donnell performed a song and dance routine with a troupe of male dancers.
Discovery had other big names in attendance, inducing actor Morgan Freeman, who hosts and produces the program “Through the Wormhole” on Science, and magicians Penn & Teller, who have a new show “Penn & teller’s Secrets of the Universe” on Discovery later this year. Billy Ray Cyrus also unveiled his new show for TLC, “Homecoming,” which reunites military men and women with their families, while SNL’s Andy Samberg told some jokes in advance of his gig as “Chief Shark Officer” during 2011’s Shark Week.
FishbowlNY also spotted:
“Mythbusters” Kari Byron and Tori Bellecci, “Cash Cab” host Ben Bailey and “Deadliest Catch” captains Sig Hansen, Andy Hillstrand and Jonathan Hillstrand. Investigation Discovery hosts/stars Steve Schirripa, boxer Butterbean, Paula Zahn, Lester Holt, Aphrodite Jones and Dan Abrams. OWN’s Suze Orman and Carson Kressley, TLC’s “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro (who brought along biscotti for guests) and “Say Yes to the Dress” host Randy Fenoli.
Discovery executives were also plentiful, including CEO David Zaslav, COO Peter Liguori and sales chief Joe Abruzzese, who took part in a gag with Penn & Teller at the end of the show. The duo showed the audience how to saw someone in half, revealing that the legs sticking out of the box actually belonged to Abruzzese, and not Teller.
The upfront presentation and party comes as Discovery tries to secure lucrative advertising deals for its upcoming programming. Networks hold upfronts to make their pitch, while also wining and dining the people that actually sign the deals.
Discovery is also launching a new network, Velocity, that came about after talks with a number of brands. The network will replace HD Theater, and will target wealthy men that are interested in cars and gadgets… which also happen to be two very valuable advertising groups.
More info on the new Discovery programs can be found here.