AMC Networks ‘Upfront Connect’ Plan Aims To Help Ad Clients During Virus Shift

AMC Networks, which canceled its March 18 upfront event in New York as the coronavirus started sweeping through the country, has launched an initiative for its advertisers called “Upfront Connect.”

The effort intends to help clients of the company’s cable and digital networks connect with sales reps even without the physical trappings that are usually commonplace this time of year. Two key elements of the offering are The Screening Room, a digital library of original programming, and The Content Room, which provides creative and production capabilities free of charge for brands. A dozen clients have committed to the Content Room, AMC said, availing themselves of PSAs, “super pods” designed for placements within feature films, and other tools.

Television advertising, which already has faced headwinds due to the onslaught of digital and the secular move away from pay-TV, has entered a particularly challenging phase due to the virus. With the economy shredded by sudden unemployment and shutdowns keeping most U.S. viewers locked down, the population is watching more TV than ever, only in a moment of austerity for many brand marketers.

Major ad agencies have been forecasting a pullback in TV ad spending, and this year money will be changing hands without the spectacle of upfront season, a weeks-long pageant when networks tout new shows and make pitches for ad dollars. (Many buyers and sellers involved in the upfronts have doubted their efficacy for years, and the coronavirus pandemic will give doubters ample reason to cut back in the future.)

“In keeping with our buyers-first approach, we’ve launched ‘Upfront Connect’ to provide comprehensive resources and convenient solutions that address the challenges our clients are facing at this time, including creative and production services at no cost to them,” Kim Kelleher, president of commercial revenue and partnerships, AMC Networks, said in a press release. “Like everything else, the advertising industry changed virtually overnight, and we are pleased to offer a full suite of resources exclusively for our partners, along with our deep audience knowledge and how and where to engage viewers in a meaningful way.”

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