Kenny Mayne Leads ESPN’s Pitch for Ad Dollars: ‘Give Us Your Money, And It’s Never F–ing Coming Back’

Upfronts 2019: “You think Bob Iger is showing up for this bulls—?” Mayne says from the “JV theater” at Lincoln Center

Mat Hayward/Getty Images for 1st Family Foundation

As has become an upfront tradition, ESPN’s Kenny Mayne gave a blistering presentation, poking fun at advertisers who still think 30-second commercials are the best way to spend billions of ad dollars.

And this year, he used an analogy of a black hole to describe where that money was headed.

“You give us your money and its never f—ing coming back. It’s gone,” Mayne said during Disney’s upfront presentation in New York on Tuesday afternoon. “It will feel like a million light-years away. But you do get a 30-second spot on color TV. Later, we’ll bring out some charts with our best guess about how many people actually saw your ad. Then we’re even.”

ESPN, which used to hold its own upfront, was rolled up into Disney’s company-wide upfront this year. Mayne even joked that he was related to the “JV” stage at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, which is across the street from the Geffen, where the rest of the event was taking place. 

“You think Bob Iger is showing up for this bulls—,” he continued. “Bob Iger is trying to figure out what in the f— this reorganization is about.”

Mayne joked frequently that even he doesn’t understand how Disney works now, fresh off its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s film and TV assets, which resulted in a reorganization for the company. “I could sooner memorize the New York City phone book then explain to you what the hell is going on here.”

Mayne ended with summing what we’re pretty sure was not Iger’s approved sales pitch: “We are postmodern and we are transparent. So much so, that you can probably see through our bulls—. Hold on to your wallets, close your eyes and just enjoy the ride.”