TCA’s summer press tour was canceled in May due to COVID-19, but the Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing is keeping a version of the tour concept alive with a week of online panels.
CTAM, which has long presented a slate of non-broadcast days during TCA press tours by arrangement with the critics’ group, will host sessions August 3 through August 7 for both TCA members and non-members. Netflix, notably, is returning to the CTAM lineup after a two-year absence.
Cable networks remain a key part of the auspices of CTAM, and this summer’s sessions will include panels featuring Lifetime, National Geographic, AMC Networks and BYU TV. Streaming and digital video have played an increasingly significant role in overall media coverage, though, and so it has been at press tour.
Along with Netflix, presenters confirmed by CTAM include WarnerMedia (which launched HBO Max on May 27 but also of course has major cable networks like TNT and TBS), BritBox, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.
Netflix first appeared at a TV press tour in 2013, the year it fired a defining shot across the bow of traditional networks by releasing House of Cards. It became a regular over the next three years, often taking up multiple days and sometimes even multiple rooms at the host hotels to accommodate simultaneous junkets and panels as its programming mushroomed. Since 2017, however, its presence has been determined on a more incremental basis and it has skipped several tours, last presenting in the summer of 2018.
Separate from CTAM’s announcement, PBS has also set plans for half-day online sessions on July 28, 29, and 30. Since canceling the summer tour in May, the TCA has been in discussions with networks about potential online offerings, which could take place through summer and into fall. It has not yet made a decision about Winter Press Tour, which is typically held in Pasadena in January.
One aspect of the virtual offerings that could appeal to regulars at the in-person press tours over the years is that each day is slated to feature between three and four hours of online presentations. That’s a noticeably leaner affair than the conventional tours, which are generally packed with more than two solid weeks of panels and events from morning until night.
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