YouTube Returns To Mid-May TV Upfronts Slot In New York With Annual Brandcast Event For Advertisers

For a second straight year, YouTube will host its annual Brandcast pitch to video ad buyers during the heart of what had been a week dominated by traditional TV network upfronts in New York.

The digital video giant, which had been an anchor tenant of the more digitally focused NewFronts ad showcase held earlier in the spring, made its mid-May debut last year with a show in the Broadway theater district. This year, on May 17, Brandcast is heading uptown to Lincoln Center’s recently renovated David Geffen Hall. The evening show will be followed by an after-party, YouTube said in a blog post.

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The Lincoln Center bash will follow a pitch to advertisers by another digital interloper on TV’s turf: Netflix, which has stepped to take over a slot long occupied by CBS and, more recently, parent company Paramount Global. (Netflix launched its new subscription tier with advertising last November in 12 territories.) With a new team running ad sales at Paramount and economic headwinds putting a spotlight on costs, the company opted to skip its traditional Carnegie Hall upfront in favor of smaller meet-ups with buyers.

Earlier today, AMC Networks confirmed plans for a spring upfront, joining NBCUniversal in putting on an in-person event. Disney, Fox Corp., Warner Bros Discovery and the CW haven’t yet made their strategies known. The shape of the upfronts — for years a blur of lavish pitches and networking parties each spring in New York, which peaked at dozens of events from February to May when cable TV was still in its heyday — has changed significantly. Cord cutting, shifting viewer habits and lingering effects from Covid have all put stress on budgets. The NewFronts, a series of digital and streaming ad pitches in which YouTube was a founding participant in the late-2000s, are scheduled for May 1 to 4 in New York.

YouTube continues to grow in terms of total viewing and share of the living room, while also adding new wrinkles for advertisers like YouTube Shorts and FAST channels. Pay-TV service YouTube TV leads all internet-delivered providers with more than 5 million subscribers, giving the company another endemic audience, and it also locked up exclusive rights to NFL Sunday Ticket broadcasts starting next fall.

“Today, viewers want to shift seamlessly from creator-driven content to episodic TV, and from short-form to long-form,” wrote Marie Gulin-Merle, global VP of ads marketing for Google. “YouTube is the only place that has everything for everybody on any screen.”

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