What Are Television “Upfronts”?

by on March 15, 2010

in Entertainment


About twice a year or so, we hear a lot about news coming out of meetings or press conferences called upfronts.

An upfront is where television networks hold a meeting where they sell airtime to the advertisers for the upcoming television season.

During the sales pitch, networks will tell advertisers and attending media what their programming plans are.

It’s during these upfronts that networks give advertisers a chance to buy ad time at a discounted ad rate. If they don’t buy ad time during the upfronts, ads can cost the premium rate during the season. So upfronts are a calculated risk, to some degree. OK, so super-hit shows like American Idol, NCIS and what not are not gambles. But new shows can be. This is the sales pitch time!

This is the reality of our favorite television shows. If networks never sold ads, we wouldn’t have shows produced. This would also preclude being able to buy our shows later on DVD for our home viewing. It’s the nature of the beast that we so vehemetly complain about. Personally, if ads weren’t so go****ed loud, I wouldn’t have such an issue with them, but… well, that’s another article.

Television network stations tend to have their upfronts in May, previewing September premeiring shows. Cable networks tend to have their upfronts earlier since they bring out more of their heavy hitters in the Summer. That way they don’t compete with basic networks for ratings when the “big boys” go to Summer reruns.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bruce Simmons March 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Laura, I’m sorry but I don’t have any insights to provide in this matter… the upfronts are about selling ad time to advertisers who see a desirable demographic that watch or attend specific entertainment venues. Advertisers look for proven horses to put their money into, like CBS and are hard to catch the attention of.

Laura Levy Shatkin March 28, 2012 at 10:32 am

Hi– we are distributing and producing our show independently but want to coordinate selling our spots, branded integration and sponsorship with this 2012 upfronts. Since we are not affiliated with a single network, do you have advice on the best way to approach advertisers who attend the upfronts? before , after or completely independent of it?
thanks for any insight!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: