Turner, Xandr Call Off Plans for Virtual Upfront

AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Xandr on Wednesday said they have called off plans to hold a large virtual upfront event.

Their live presentation was canceled by the Coronavirus pandemic, which led to the prohibition of large gatherings before people were ordered to stay home.

In lieu of the upfront, WarnerMedia’s ad sales operation plans to put out regular updates on its brands

Last week, it released an update on sports and this week sent out a video in which Conan O’Brien interviews Kevin Reilly, the president of TBS, TNT and truTV, as well as chief content officer for HBO Max.

In the video, Reilly notes that TNT’s and TBS’s ratings have been up 15% during the pandemic.

Reilly said that O’Brien and Samantha Bee have figured out how to create home-made content and that the network has adjusted by schedule marathons, including one leading up to the new season of The Last OG that featured limited commercial interruptions.

“There’s probably not a wider variety of programs to be found on the air,” Reilly said of his portfolio of networks. He said the network offered a version of comfort food, with series such as Friends, Big Bang Theory and Family Guy, plus movies.

Those networks are missing their live sports. “That is a lot of programming between [the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament] and the NBA that went out the door,” he said. “And yet we filled it pretty much over night.”

The networks have moved up some originals, including Snowpiercer and Angel of Darkness and have ordered up some new unscripted shows, including a new version of Wipeout.

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.