February 16, 2017: Viacom to Forego Upfront Presentations for Smaller Dinners With Top Execs, Twitter Makes Event Live Streams More Accessible, New Imax Center Seeks to Make Virtual Reality Mainstream

February 16, 2017, 8:37 AM EST

1. VIACOM TO FOREGO UPFRONT PRESENTATIONS FOR SMALLER DINNERS WITH TOP EXECS: Viacom will forego its usual elaborate upfront presentations for intimate dinners to give agencies and holding companies a chance to speak with the company's C.E.O., Robert Bakish, and other top executives. Sean Moran, head of marketing and partner solutions at Viacom, spoke more about the change. Adweek: “Viacom will hold between 6 to 10 of these upfront dinners, with most taking place in New York, starting in late March and stretching through April. The company is also looking to hold the dinners elsewhere, including Chicago and Detroit. In recent years, several networks have done away with their big upfront events in favor of smaller gatherings, with Discovery Communications, A+E Networks and AMC Networks all making the switch in recent years. Buyers have said they find that approach 'far more valuable' in their upfront conversations. Moran said the company had initially talked about combining all their presentations into a single event this year, much like NBCUniversal did last year (and will continue with this year’s presentation, which will be held May 15 at Radio City Music Hall). But after speaking with client and agency partners about that approach, he decided to shift gears. The upfront dinners will cover all the networks in the Global Entertainment Group, while the company will still hold its traditional upfront events for Nickelodeon, which will take place March 2 in New York, and BET, which will occur April 27.”

2. TWITTER MAKES EVENT LIVE STREAMS MORE ACCESSIBLE: Twitter’s transition to live streaming events directly is nothing new, but now the platform has integrated its live streaming app into its recently debuted “Explore” section. The move will make it even easier for users to view sporting competitions, red carpets, and more events that Twitter live streams. TechCrunch: “The company has been criticized for its slow progress in integrating Periscope’s live streaming capabilities into its own app following the acquisition of the up-and-coming live broadcasting tool back in early 2015. Instead of leveraging Periscope’s technology to immediately build out its own live streaming platform within Twitter, the company instead tried to operate Periscope as a separate entity—similar to how Facebook treated Instagram. But unlike Instagram, Periscope was acquired pre-launch, so it didn’t have an existing community to build upon. It also faced intense competition from other tech giants, including Facebook and YouTube, as well as the then-newcomer startup Meerkat (which has since exited the live streaming race.) … In addition, Twitter’s mobile redesign—which saw it replacing the ‘Moments’ section with a broader ‘Explore’ area for search and discovery of trends, Moments, video and more—has also put a greater emphasis on live video. Of course, this includes those live streams Twitter now hosts through its numerous media deals, like those with the NFL and other sports organizations, Dick Clark Productions for various red carpet events, media outlets for political and business news coverage, and more.”

3. NEW IMAX CENTER SEEKS TO MAKE VIRTUAL REALITY MAINSTREAM: Imax C.E.O. Richard Gelfond this week unveiled the company's first-ever Imax flagship VR center in Los Angeles, and explained how he hopes the new venue will give the virtual-reality industry a mainstream boost. Los Angeles Times: “Though Hollywood and Silicon Valley have been touting virtual reality as the next big thing for several years, there are huge hurdles preventing its wide acceptance in the entertainment industry. Few people can afford the headsets  and computing equipment the games require, which can cost thousands of dollars. Another problem: There aren’t enough compelling games to make it worth the price. 'Whether it’s the lack content or consumer access to headsets, the industry has been in a holding pattern, slow to go mainstream,' Gelfond told reporters at Imax’s VR Experience Centre in Los Angeles. 'It’s a complex ecosystem that’s in need of a jump-start, and we’re here to start to provide the spark.' … Imax has made deals to build pilot centers in multiplexes with AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group to test whether such attractions will help bring young people back to movie theaters. Each center costs $250,000 to $400,000 to create, not counting real estate spending, Gelfond said. Imax has additional centers planned for Britain and China and is eyeing projects in Japan, the Middle East and Western Europe. Hollywood has shown much interest in virtual reality, but not for full-length movies made for headsets. Virtual reality experiences are meant to last up to 15 minutes at the Imax center. The flagship Imax VR Centre, located across the street from the Grove shopping center, opened with a soft launch Jan. 6. Gelfond said it has so far attracted 5,000 customers, and sales are growing so far, up 80% week-over-week. But, he admits, the company’s involvement with VR is still in very experimental stages.”


BOSTON:  The inaugural Presidents Day Winter Festival will take place Monday at Hancock-Adams Green in Quincy. The family-friendly event will feature fire-breathing and stilt walking performances, a green-screen photo booth, dishes from local restaurants, and guided tours of the 1844 Old City Hall and Church of the Presidents.

LAS VEGAS:  Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley will co-host the 52nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards, which air live on CBS from the T-Mobile Arena on April 2.

LOS ANGELES:  Bacardi GDL, the third Venetian tavern concept from owners Robert and Danny Kronfli and chef Lior Hillel, has opened at the Americana at Brand in Glendale. The restaurant, which offers Italy-inspired fare with Mediterranean influences, seats 68.

The fourth annual iHeart Radio Music Awards will take place March 5 at the Forum in Inglewood. Headliners include Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, and Shawn Mendes.

For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner:

NEW ORLEANS:  The city's first-ever Top Taco festival will take place March 23 at Riverwalk's Spanish Plaza. The culinary competition will feature tacos and tequila cocktails from 40 local restaurants. Event proceeds benefit One Heart NOLA.

NEW YORK:  NYC Beer Week takes place February 24-March 5 with events at various venues around the city. New events include the NYC Fermentation Festival on February 25, which will showcase fermented goods from more than 30 vendors at the Brooklyn Expo Center.

For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner:

ORLANDO/CENTRAL FLORIDA:  The new iFly indoor skydiving facility will open April 27 on International Drive.

TORONTO:  Code, an international development organization focused on bringing literacy to underserved children, has partnered with Toronto Twilight Rotary Club to host its fourth annual Read Africa Ball on March 9 at 2nd Floor Events.

Toronto's Festival of Beer will take place July 28-30 at Bandshell Park, Exhibition Place. Presented by the Beer Store, the festival will be headlined by rock band Sloan.

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With contributions from Jenny Berg in Chicago, Alesandra Dubin and Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles, Mitra Sorrells in Orlando, and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, Jill Menze, and Ian Zelaya in New York.

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