The 10 Most Memorable Moments From This Year’s Upfronts

Which network was the funniest, and which had the best Hamilton parody?

That's a wrap on upfronts week, where the networks were unusually cordial to one another—well, except for Jimmy Kimmel—as they banded together to attack a common foe: digital video companies.

But there were also plenty of laughs in between the digital attacks and data talk, as each network made its big pitch to buyers and advertisers. Here were the 10 most memorable moments from upfront week, from me and the rest of the Adweek TV team, who blanketed each event. And if you missed out on any of Adweek's comprehensive upfronts coverage, you can find it here.

NBCUniversal: How did NBCUniversal cram two broadcast networks and 15 cable networks into a single combined upfront that clocked in at just under two hours? By unleashing a dizzying array of sizzle reels, which cumulatively were so overwhelming that just days later, I can't remember a single one of them. But what I do recall, fondly, is Seth Meyers' sharp standup routine late in the proceedings at Radio City Music Hall, "Watching sizzle reels at the upfronts is like meeting your brother's new girlfriend at Thanksgiving: She seems great … but chances are she won't be around next fall." It wasn't quite Jimmy Kimmel-level, but it was close, and it was exactly the jolt that buyers needed.

Fox: Maybe Fox slipped something into the air vents of the Beacon Theatre, or perhaps after that NBCU event, buyers were just craving any trailer that was given a few minutes of breathing room on each end. Either way, this was the first upfront in several years where the audience seemed to like almost everything, including The Exorcist, which wasn't nearly as "scary" as Fox co-chief Gary Newman promised. It was a nice change to see the usually-jaded upfronts audience seem genuinely enthusiastic about something from start to finish.

Telemundo's party: With its ad pitch relegated to a few minutes at the combined NBCU presentation, Telemundo put on a party featuring Jennifer Lopez in a max-energy 45-minute set at the Hammerstein Ballroom. "Is this work? Are you all here for work?" Lopez asked the crowd. With a full band, shirtless dancers, two costume changes and a wind machine set to badass, the night was not about big data, or ad loads, but about Jenny from the Block. —Chris Ariens

ESPN: ESPN's parade of sports stars felt a little lighter than normal, though Bryce Harper, Noah Syndergaard, Brett Favre–staying on brand by showing up in Wranglers–and Chris Paul still made for a strong quartet. But it was ESPN's new Monday Night Football man Sean McDonough that impressed buyers the most, especially with his Donald Trump-fueled comment about the upcoming NFL game from Mexico City in November: "Fortunately, there won't be any ginormous walls we'll have to climb." —Tim Baysinger

Univision: Univision spent a fair amount of time on its comedy portfolio, including its recent acquisition of The Onion. The fake news site's president Mike McAvoy joked they were going to take on a new name: La Cebolla. But seriously, network evp of ad sales Steve Mandala declared "sharing funny video is as important as music, in terms of social currency." —Chris Ariens

ABC: Networks claim during upfronts that all of their new shows are sensational, but with rare programs, it's apparent that they actually believe what they are saying. (Remember when ABC aired the entire Modern Family pilot during its 2009 upfront?) That was the case with ABC's mic drop to finish to its presentation, when instead of just showing a sizzle reel for its new Kiefer Sutherland drama, Designated Survivor, the network screened what seemed to be the entire first act. The audience was riveted, and Designated Survivor became one of the week's most talked about new shows.

Turner: Turner may not have had the longest upfront this week—that title will forever belong to NBCUniversal—but it definitely had the funniest. Between Charles Barkley and Conan O'Brien quipping back and forth during an opening town hall, to Samantha Bee praising Satan for the 2016 election, Turner kept ad buyers in stitches throughout. Billy Eichner, in his second appearance on the MSG Theater stage in three weeks, commented on the state of TV: "Television isn't dead. That said, it has about three years to live." —Tim Baysinger

CBS: What a difference a year makes. In 2015, Stephen Colbert was the talk of CBS' upfront, making his first public appearance on behalf of the network. But this year, he was quite literally an afterthought (he didn't pop up until mid-event), as the network gave its other late-night host, James Corden, not one but two showstopping moments: a taped Carpool Karaoke segment with network ad sales chief Jo Ann Ross, and a Hamilton number onstage, which was the last, and best, of the week's three Hamilton-themed production numbers. "We love that guy," said CBS Corp. chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves. Yeah, we could tell.

         

        Jo Ann Ross was James Corden's latest Carpool Karaoke passenger. Jason Lynch

Adult Swim: The Turner network's annual upfront bash is always a highlight of the week, and this year was no different with Nicki Minaj, although the singer did show up 40 minutes late, starting her set almost at midnight. Once on stage, however, Minaj immediately engaged with the audience, so much so that midway through her set, she brought a few people from the crowd on stage for an impromptu dance-off. —Tim Baysinger

The CW: Now that NBCUniversal has pulled the plug on its Thursday afternoon cable upfront (hooray!), The CW knew that its presentation was the only thing standing between buyers and the end of a grueling upfronts week. So the network gave its audience an even better gift than an open bar: a succinct, fast-moving presentation that was over in 45 minutes flat. An upfronts miracle!