The kids network and African American-focused network got standalone presentations at the event, which was streamed to advertisers and featured a slew of the company’s talent including an Imagine-esque singalong, although there was little attention on layoff-hit nets such as Comedy Central.
The company touted Nickelodeon shows such as Are You Afraid of the Dark?, which is coming back for a second season, Tyler Perry’s Young Dylan, The Crystal Maze and Danger Force, while also highlighting upcoming titles such as SpongeBob Squarepants spin-off Kamp Koral, Baby Shark’s Big Show, a Star Trek animated series, Imagine Kids + Family drama The Astronauts and the return of The Rugrats.
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On the BET side, President Scott Mills thanked the likes of Tyler Perry, Lena Waithe and Jesse Collins, who produce shows such as Bruh, Ruthless, Twenties, Boomerang and American Soul. “There’s just no company that is as committed to the African American community as BET,” he said.
Waithe added that she loved the network. “I’ve always loved BET and not just because I’m a black person but because they’ve been down with black people for the last 40 years and me for the last year.”
Other than the appearance of The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, there was little presence of Comedy Central, which has been gutted by recent layoffs including the departure of Head of Comedy Central Content & Creative Enterprises Sarah Babineau. Similarly, other than the presence of a few of the network’s stars, such as Snooki and Heidi & Spencer, there was little mention of MTV, while the Paramount Network was limited to video shorts from Coyote star Michael Chiklis and Yellowstone’s Kevin Costner looking ahead to “brighter days”.
The theme of the digital event was ‘Simply Stronger’ with the likes of Colbert, in animated form, talking to Paw Patrol’s Chase, Tony Romo and Jim Nantz talking to Corden (who was not interested in Romo’s Conference Calleoke format), JoJo Siwa talking to Young Sheldon’s Iain Armitage, LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell speaking to Keegan-Michael Key and ad sales boss being ‘interviewed’ by 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker
There was also a somewhat cheesy rendition of The Turtles’ Happy Together featuring the likes of Younger’s Hilary Duff, Bob Saget, Norman Lear, Rita Morena, Diddy and Tiffany Haddish.
Towards the end of the 30-minute presentation, Colbert, Noah and Corden got into your more typical upfronts fare, gently mocking their own networks.
“If you’ll just sit through a three-hour time-share presentation, you’ll get to pick up your free theme park tickets,” joked The Late Show host Colbert, who also highlighted the leadership of Bob Bakish and George Cheeks. “By the way, if your Cheeks seem Bakish, see a physician immediately, that’s one of the symptoms.”
He added, “I’ve learned a lot about Viacom today. There’s one network called CMT and one called CMT Music. So Country Music Television Music, if you’d like to advertise there, just cough up some money, cash money.”
Noah joked that he was quarantining inside Comedy Central’s offices. “I’ll be honest, sharing a bathroom with the Crank Yankers is not as much fun as I’d thought. Between all of these brands, capabilities, and vast array of talent, we are in a place to best serve our partners. With [them] we are simply stronger, not to be confused with the Trump Administration’s motto: simple.”
The Late Late Show host James Corden closed out the show. “Tomorrow, we’re going to do this all again, looking at some of the programming coming to CBS. I, for one, am very excited, let’s be honest, it’s been months since any of us have had plans two days in a row,” he joked. “As we sit here, miles apart from each other having singular experiences all over America, there is one thing that brings us together every time, that little box that sits in the corner of the living room. That and the fact that we’ve all gained about 15 pounds. That TV is the thing that give us the collective experience we have been so sorely missing.”
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