Fox Corporation has been among the most proactive media companies in scaling back events in the face of the rapidly growing coronavirus epidemic.
Earlier this week, the company’s Fox News network became the first to cancel its advertisers upfront presentation scheduled for March 24 due to coronavirus concerns.
Now I have learned that Fox Corp.’s broadcast network Fox Entertainment will no longer be hosting program development presentations in a precautionary effort to keep employees, clients and agency partners safe from the pathogen. I hear the company also canceled an affiliate board dinner that was to take place during the NAB Show in Vegas, slated for April 18-22.
Program Development meetings are important pre-upfront events for the broadcast networks. The presentations give advertisers and their agencies an early look at the networks’ pilots that are in consideration for the next season’s slate. I hear Fox Entertainment, running high on the ratings success of shows like The Masked Singer, was scheduled to hold presentations in New York, Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles during the last week of March.
The other broadcast networks are still mulling their program development presentations and possible contingency plans, I hear.
Meanwhile, none of the May 2020 broadcast upfront presentations have been impacted so far. Set to take place May 11-14, the glitzy events showcase the nets’ fall schedules and new shows while wining and dining ad buyers ahead of the upfront market where the broadcasters sell the bulk of their advertising for the following season.
All networks presenting in May are currently proceeding with their plans, which could change as we get near depending on the progress in trying to contain the coronavirus epidemic.
The NAB Show may be faced with tough decisions soon. A major part of the business conducted there includes local stations buying new equipment. That may be hampered as some of the top equipment exhibitors come from China and Japan, countries that have been grappling with the impact from the COVID-19, imposing travel restrictions among other measures to limit the outbreak. Additionally, most networks hold affiliate meetings/dinners during the confab which could be canceled.
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