TCA Cancels Summer Press Tour, Exploring “Virtual Alternatives” With Networks

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock (10614350f) The Beverly Hilton is pictured, in Beverly Hills, Calif Hollywood Landmarks, Beverly Hills, United States - 14 Apr 2020 Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

The Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, an annual marketing ritual held at LA’s Beverly Hilton, has become the latest industry event to be canceled by the coronavirus.

In a memo sent Friday to its members, the TCA said it is “working with the networks to explore virtual alternatives both within the original press tour time frame and later in 2020. But, given the current state of television production, as of now, this is a cancellation not a postponement.”

No decision has been made about the TCA Awards, which are handed out in the middle of summer tour, the board said.

The cancellation is the latest twist in the 2020 industry calendar, and one that could have longer-term impact in terms of building awareness for TV and streaming programming. Dozens of broadcast and cable networks as well as digital and streaming outlets have come to rely on presentation slots during the two-and-a-half-week tour as a way to tout shows and promote their brands.

In addition to the junket-like publicity offerings, with panels and evening events featuring talent meeting the press, the tour has long been a venue for business conversations. A range of top executives and producers stopping through during the fortnight, and on-stage sessions with execs often generate news about their takes on hot-button topics or outlooks on the fast-changing TV landscape.

With so many key elements on lockdown, though, and the state of California maintaining strict control over businesses looking to resume operations over the coming months, staging a live event became untenable.

The TCA stages two press tours each year, so next January’s edition in Pasadena would be the next potential edition of the event.

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