Netflix, Now In The Ad Sales Business, Takes The Traditional CBS Slot During Upfront Week With Presentation At New York’s Paris Theater

Netflix, now with advertising to sell, has swooped in to take the traditional CBS slot capping off the traditional broadcast upfront week in May.

The streaming giant, which rolled out an advertising tier in November, will host ad buyers at the Paris Theater in New York on May 17. CBS parent Paramount Global, which had continued the tradition of the company’s Carnegie Hall upfront, decided this year to abandon the slot at the end of what had always been known as broadcast upfront week. The company instead will focus on more intimate gatherings with ad clients.

Of course, the broadcast upfronts long ago morphed into something more blended, with presentations incorporating cable and dollops of digital and streaming for years. But they still have a place in the hearts and calendars of decision-makers controlling billions in advertising dollars.

Netflix took over the lease of the Paris in 2019 and has used the fabled single-screen venue next to the Plaza Hotel to screen a range of films and series. Of course, many of them are Netflix originals and the site often hosts premieres, but it’s also a repertory house of sorts where directors can program work that influenced them, for example. During upfront week, of course, it won’t be about the art of cinema, but about the realities of commerce. After insisting for years that it would never take advertising, Netflix made an about face a year ago amid worsening financial performance. It hasn’t indicated any early numbers for the $7-a-month tier, but many Wall Street analysts see it developing into a multi-billion-dollar contributor to total revenue by 2025.

Another tech giant, YouTube, has long been a presence during the NewFronts, an tech-centric ad blitz held earlier in the spring, though last year was the first time the digital video destination held forth during the traditional upfront week. Although Paramount bailed, NBCUniversal has committed to an event kicking off the week on May 14 at Radio City Music Hall. It’s unclear what other players intend to do. Last year, Disney wove messages about Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ into a broader pitch about its many linear brands. Warner Bros Discovery took over the prior slot of WarnerMedia and the Turner networks during upfront week last year and gave HBO Max and Discovery+ periodic shout-outs. The CW is under new ownership at Nexstar Media Group, and given the cost-conscious atmosphere the new parent has established, a splashy upfront event reminiscent of past editions appears unlikely.z

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