Despite a strong set from Seth Meyers during NBCUniversal's upfront on Monday, fellow late night host Jimmy Kimmel proved this afternoon why his annual roast on ABC's upfront stage is the highlight of the week.
Kimmel's no-holds-barred approach went after digital upstarts, fellow broadcast rivals, and the industry's obsession with millennials.
In his 14th upfront monologue, Kimmel said the annual pitch to advertisers felt like a family reunion, before wondering, "Where's uncle Paul?" Kimmel was referring to ousted entertainment president Paul Lee, who was replaced by Channing Dungey three months ago today. "You hate to see anyone, especially a British person, lose his dental plan."
Kimmel, whose ABC contract was extended until 2019, talked about Dungey's earlier career which included being a story editor for Steven Seagall's film company, "where she was so successful she was able to get people to actually go see movies starring Steven Seagall."
As this week brings to an end two months of advertiser presentations, from broadcast, cable and digital video producers, Kimmel wondered why companies like Crackle and Vox need their own presentations: "These aren't networks, they're sound effects when Batman punches a bad guy."
Taking aim at rival broadcasters, Kimmel described NBCU's combined upfront as "NBCFU." "How are you guys holding up, was it a long day yesterday? Fucking NBC."
"Did they mention they have the Olympics?," he asked. Following Bob Costas's bout with pink eye during the Sochi games, Kimmel added, "Rumor has it they're planning to give him the Zika Virus" in Rio.
On ratings measurements, Kimmel targeted CBS's older-skewing audience: "CBS objects to the term live because so many of their viewers aren't."
Kimmel also took plenty of shots at his own network, including his closing line: "Don't think of us as an old fashioned TV network. Think of us an enormous paper shredder you can put 8 billion dollars into." (The combined 2015-16 broadcast upfront brought in $8.36 billion dollars.)
A few other highlights from Kimmel:
- On catering to millennial viewers: "Are we really going to let these vaping, snapchatting, music-stealing little fuckers determine how we do business? We are? Oh, we are."
- On the broadcast industry in 2016: "2016 is still an exciting time in broadcast television, in the same way that 1937 was an exciting time to be on the Hindenburg."
- On increasing and decreasing ad loads in shows: "There's been a lot of talk about heavier ad loads, which is the most disgusting thing I've heard you guys say all week."
- On the amount of reboots ordered for next season, particularly from Fox: "All your favorite VHS tapes are now becoming shows."
In contrast to Kimmel's set, Meyers' much-shorter bit at NBCU's upfront focused exclusively on his own company.
Meanwhile, ESPN's Kenny Mayne, one of the best kept secrets of upfront week, held his own taking aim mostly at industry trends: "Every year, they bring me out to address you on our most important message. Last year, it was Big Data. What the hell ever happened with that? This year I'm going to talk about viewability," he declared, as a small stage elevator showed him only from the waist up. "This is me at 49%."
— Kristie Adler (@KristieESPNPR) May 17, 2016