NEW YORK CBS led the charge of upfront-related news yesterday, announcing the network will once again host a presentation for advertisers on May 14 at Carnegie Hall—quelling months of speculation that the major networks would forgo the fancy (and costly) presentations and parties altogether. That said, CBS declined to comment on whether or not it will return to Tavern on the Green for its annual lavish after-party, though Variety reported that Tavern's sales office confirmed the space has been reserved for the afternoon and evening of May 14, adding “It's hard to believe CBS wouldn't offer advertisers some form of food and drink.”
Reuters is reporting that because of the WGA strike, development plans for the 2008-2009 television season are much-delayed: “The usefulness of the presentations—where the networks parade out stars or their own executives for skits and dance numbers—[has become] the subject of the sharpest criticism.”
ABC is also returning to Upfront Week, with its presentation taking place at Lincoln Center on May 13, while Fox is taking over City Center on May 15, and CW is said to have booked a venue, likely the Theater at Madison Garden, where the network has held court for the past several years.
NBC too is on board, though possibly because everybody else is doing it. The network's spokeswoman confirmed they're hosting an upfront, but said “changes will be made.” This is somewhat surprising, considering NBC Universal C.E.O. Jeff Zucker's recent comments that the upfronts are a “dog-and-pony show” and that he favored the idea of one-on-one meetings with advertisers. The New York Post, however, quoted an unnamed ad executive saying, “If the other networks do a presentation and NBC doesn't, they don't even look like they're part of the Big Three.”
According to an Advertising Age story, “A person familiar with the situation said NBC is looking at a 'new and creative approach' to the event.”