Along with being the first to pull out of the now-cancelled Winter Television Critics Association tour, NBC may be the first net to officially scrap upfront events due to the WGA strike, according to a NY Times story: “Jeff Zucker, the president of NBC Universal, is the most vocal, willing to say publicly that his network is contemplating junking its upfront event. ‘In light of the changing business environment, we are looking very seriously at not doing the extravaganza part of the upfront process.”
For NBC that usually means Radio City Music Hall with a drinks party in and around the skating rink in Rockefeller Plaza.
Execs at each of the other big three confirmed the strike was driving the movement toward a mid-May week without any circus-like upfront events. CBS spokesperson Chris Ender told the paper: “There has been no final decision, but it is increasingly unlikely that we will do a traditional upfront presentation this year.”
Execs at Fox and ABC didn’t want to comment because final decisions had not been made, said the story. But a senior exec at one network said, “I’d say it’s 50-50 now that we’d do a traditional upfront, and every day the strike goes deeper into January the chances become dimmer and dimmer.”
Of course, the networks will still take part in the actual selling of the upfront, but with smaller presentations in smaller settings in front of smaller groups of buyers and planners.