It's been a memorable upfront/NewFronts season, but not even the Adweek staff was prepared for some of the zaniness of the final—and most important— week, as networks made their strikingly (data) similar (data) pitches (data) to media buyers and advertisers from morning to night.
Here were the 10 most memorable moments from an unusual upfront week—duets, proposals, former presidents—from me and the other Adweek staffers who covered each one. (And if you missed out on any of Adweek's comprehensive upfronts coverage, you can find it here.)
NBC: I'm still not convinced this wasn't some kind of upfronts-induced fever dream, but after Dolly Parton performed "Coat of Many Colors," she asked NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt to join her on "I Will Always Love You"—and he did. While Greenblatt held his own on the ivories (even though "he usually sings with me," Parton said), that didn't make the spectacle—which became a running punch line through several of the week's upfronts—any less bizarre.
Fox: I'll take a spirited Empire concert over a stuffy upfront any day, and that's exactly what we got—because what better way for the network to distract advertisers and buyers from its fourth-place finish among adults 18-49 than by having the Empire cast tear up the Beacon Theatre stage with a powerhouse medley of the show's best songs? As I suggested in March, Fox needs to televise an Empire concert, pronto.
ESPN: When ABC's Good Morning America anchors George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts, Amy Robach and Laura Spencer joined Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg on stage to discuss Mike & Mike's upcoming move to Times Square, it was a classic example of corporate synergy. But, it also raised an interesting question: Will the New York move lead to more entertainment and less sports from ESPN's morning show? We'll find out in 2016. –Brian Flood
Univision: Bill Clinton opened the show with a discussion about the growth of the Hispanic audience, Latinos in politics, the threat of ISIS and global warming, but he was cut off mid-sentence by the moderator and Fusion anchor Alicia Menendez when the discussion went on too long. –Chris Ariens
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel's annual skewering of his own network and the other upfronts is always one of the week's highlights, but this year's routine seemed even sharper than usual ("One of the networks is lying to you, and I'm here to tell you that it's us."). Then, for the capper, he brought his 10-month-old daughter onstage. Awww …
Telemundo: I'm not sure we needed another Big Brother, but we're getting one, as Gran Hermano comes to U.S. Hispanic TV for the first time. Also, it was the greatest collection of telenovela stars this side of Premios TVyNovelas. –Chris Ariens
Turner: The coffee and doughnuts upon arrival definitely helped, but the highlight came at the very end when Shaquille O'Neill asked Sharon Stone to marry him. –Chris Ariens
CBS: Incoming Late Show host Stephen Colbert had a Herculean task: He had to charm advertisers—or, as he called them, "adver-buddies"—and show that he's not actually the character he played for 10 seasons on The Colbert Report. But, he also had to pay proper homage to David Letterman. He pulled off all that and more in a hilarious debut that couldn't have gone any better for him or the network.
The CW: As upfront audiences staggered toward the finish line on Thursday, the CW had an unexpected treat—its presentation wrapped up in less than 50 minutes, and it included two songs from the folk-pop band Of Monsters and Men. That was roughly half the time of the other broadcast networks' upfront presentations. By that point in the week, short and sweet was exactly what we needed.
NBCU Cable: NBCU ad sales president Linda Yaccarino, at her third NBCU upfront of the week, reminded advertisers that "Facebook and YouTube are neither substitutes nor surrogates for broadcast." Also, there were 168 stars from seven NBCU networks, from the Kardashians to Chica. –Chris Ariens