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Disney Shifts Upfront, Hulu Newfront, to Streaming Events

The Walt Disney Co. is taking its upfront presentation, as well as the Hulu newfront, online as the Coronavirus has effectively ended the week of glitzy live events traditional aimed at separating media buyers from their clients money.

Disney is just about the last of the big media companies to cancel their upfront, which for years had been held at New York’s Lincoln Center, headlined by Jimmy Kimmel. In recent years, the event has expanded from covering ABC to including other Disney properties such as ESPN, FX and National Geographic.

For the past few years, Hulu has put on a presentation in Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater during the Newfronts, where digital video companies pitch buyers.

This year neither presentation will be done before a llive audience, in keeping with New York restrictions on large gatherings.

“In light of recent events, and for the safety of our staff, talent, clients and partners, Disney Advertising Sales is reinventing both its Hulu Newfront and TWDC Upfront presentations,” A Disney Advertising Sales spokeswoman said.

“Production plans are already underway to develop two star-studded and innovative streaming events, showcasing the breadth and depth of Disney’s rich portfolio and infrastructure. We are committed to redefining how we bring clients the best storytelling and advertising opportunities. A more detailed announcement of alternative presentation plans will be forthcoming,” she said.

Earlier on Thursday, NBCU, ViacomCBS, The CW, Discovery and AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Xander units announced the cancellation of their live May presentations. Fox has not commented on its plans.

Fox News, AMC Networks, A+E Networks and Comcast’s FreeWheel also canceled events.

Most plan to communicate with clients and buyers through smaller meetings, streaming presentations and online hubs where strategic information and programming can be accessed.

Jon Lafayette
Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.