The 5 Defining Trends of This Year's Broadcast Upfronts

Revivals, military shows and knocking digital advertising

During the annual broadcast upfronts last week, most of the networks picked up right where they left off last year: reasserting their dominance by repeatedly pummeling digital advertising, especially in light of advertisers’ renewed concerns about online placement in offensive environments on platforms like YouTube. “Promising brand safety is a really low bar, and some companies can’t even do that,” said NBCUniversal’s ad sales chief Linda Yaccarino, setting the tone for the week, while newly promoted Fox ad sales chief Joe Marchese declared, “The subprime advertising market is dragging us all down.” Some networks were able to tout breakout freshman successes like NBC’s This Is Us and CBS’ Bull, but they all attempted to convince wary buyers to devote even more of their advertising budgets to networks that continue to lose live linear viewers. Their message: even as ratings are falling, “TV is the most effective advertising medium ever,” Yaccarino said. “We know it, you know it and our friends in Silicon Valley know it.” But as the networks plied buyers with booze and food, and dazzled them with performances from the likes of Jennifer Hudson and the Backstreet Boys in hopes of increasing their upfront take, several new trends emerged from broadcast upfront week.

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This story first appeared in the May 22, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.