Upfront Mystery Diary: A Top TV Buyer Takes Adweek Inside One Company’s Negotiations

An exclusive look at a top-secret process

The upfronts are one of TV’s great mysteries: They’re always the focus of the advertising year, but the negotiation process remains hush-hush, with only a handful of people on both sides engaged in those high-level talks. That changed last year, when a major TV ad sales exec agreed to (anonymously) take Adweek behind the scenes, compiling an upfront diary that highlighted each stage of their upfront negotiations. This year, we got another behind-the-scenes peek, this time from the other side of the bargaining table, as a top TV buyer—once again, anonymous—took Adweek through every step of their company’s talks. Here’s what this person had to say about the “insane” upfront marketplace, where early movement, a “really dumb” response to higher-than-expected rates of change and the sudden exit of WarnerMedia ad sales chief Donna Speciale affected this year’s negotiations.

Click for more from this issue

This story first appeared in the Aug. 26, 2019, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.