YouTube Moves Brandcast Event Into Mid-May TV Upfront Week In New York, Maintains NewFronts Presence With MediaLink Panels

YouTube is moving its Brandcast event for advertisers and creators into prime media real estate, slotting it for the evening of May 17, the middle of broadcast TV upfront week in New York.

The Google-owned digital video giant said it will maintain a presence in the IAB’s NewFronts, in which it was a founding participant. In addition to being principal sponsor of the week of pitches to ad buyers, YouTube will team with consultancy MediaLink to present a set of panels on the morning of May 2, the traditional kickoff to the week.

After two years in virtual mode due to Covid, the NewFronts and TV upfronts are poised to stage a return to pre-pandemic form with a series of in-person events in May in New York. The IAB has not released a schedule for the NewFronts, but Disney, Fox, NBCUniversal and Roku have confirmed they be part of the series of digital showcases. Disney, Fox, NBCU, Paramount (formerly ViacomCBS) and the CW have also set in-person upfronts, some in familiar homes and others in new venues. Other TV programmers like Discovery, WarnerMedia and AMC Networks are also planning in-person upfronts in the spring.

The TV upfronts and the NewFronts “are the most important moments to reach advertisers and agencies as they plan their media strategies,” YouTube said in a blog post. “We feel this is the right time to help our customers bridge the gap between linear TV and digital, which is why YouTube will have a presence at both events this year.”

The post cited Nielsen numbers from last December, which said YouTube’s connected-TV app reached households with 135 million people in the U.S. Last October, Nielsen found YouTube accounted for more than 50% of total viewing time of ad-supported connected-TV apps among viewers aged 18 and older. The competitive set included Pluto, Tubi, Peacock, Roku Channel and Hulu, though one caveat is that streaming bundle YouTube TV was included in YouTube’s count. October featured events like baseball’s World Series and high-rated NFL and college football games, which drew many of YouTube TV’s 3 million-plus subscribers for many hours.

YouTube has put on splashy Brandcast events every year, but the bar has risen since they moved a few years ago into Radio City Music Hall, the same venue where NBCU has held its upfront. In 2019, less than two weeks before NBCU took the stage to tout This Is Us and the Olympics, YouTube put on an evening show with executive remarks mixing with performances by Dua Lipa, Lele Pons and sports collective Dude Perfect. Several hundred attendees then headed to the sprawling after-party in a tented space taking up the entire skating rink area outside 30 Rockefeller Center.

The partnership with MediaLink, which has put on the Monday morning panel event at the NewFronts for several years, will yield panels focused on “the future of content and the creator economy.”

“As a founding member of the IAB NewFronts, YouTube has been with us on a decade-long journey to architect the streaming future,” IAB chief David Cohen was quoted as saying in the blog post. “That future is here, and we couldn’t be more excited to partner with them again to bring their content, creators and community to the NewFronts audience.”

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