Discovery said it would hold its virtual upfront for the 2021-22 broadcast year on May 18, in the middle of the week when the broadcast networks have traditionally held their presentations for media buyers.
Discovery’s announcement follows similar word from The Walt Disney Co. and ViacomCBS that they will hold virtual events in May.
Last year’s upfront season was disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. Instead of in-person events leading up to the big extravaganzas held during May in such esteemed venues as Radio City Music Hall and Carnegie Hall, the networks held mostly glorified Zoom calls with buyers later in the season.
Upfront negotiations dragged on slowly as advertisers revised their business plans in light of the pandemic and most upfront deals weren’t locked up till September, just before the start of the fall TV season.
Last year, Discovery moved its upfront presentation to the week in May when the broadcasters hold their events to signal to buyers that Discovery’s cable networks were drawing big numbers, particularly women viewers, and should be considered the same way the broadcasters are.
Discovery CEO David Zaslav regularly complains that the prices Discovery gets for its commercials is a fraction of what the big broadcasters get for theirs.
This year Discovery has launched Discovery Plus, its direct-to-consumer streaming service, which has an ad-supported tier. It is also planning to launch Chip and Joanna Gaines’s Magnolia Network as a digital property in July. The launch of Magnolia’s cable channel was delayed until 2022.
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