By Sahil Patel
Maybe! But that’s entirely dependent on who you are and what you want out of the event.
One of the arguments against hosting an upfront-style presentation to convince advertisers to buy your online-only content is that often, the content doesn’t get made unless an advertiser is attached.
That’s a fair point.
Luckily, since we here at VideoInk have a 2013 Newfronts “cheat sheet” — complete with pretty much every original show screened at events last year — there is a way to determine how the 2013 Newfront presenters fared.
Before me move on, one thing we must acknowledge: No two Newfront presenters are exactly alike. For instance, no one in their right mind would compare what YouTube did last year to what AOL or Yahoo did, or what Microsoft prioritized. Completely different. The purpose of this scorecard is to see how the companies that actually presented original programming did.
And the biggest takeaway is, unless you’re a big company with a set programming budget — Newfront “founding fathers” like AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo, or big media organizations like The Weather Channel or Conde Nast — you had trouble making the shows you screened.
Here’s the quick run-down of how many shows have aired versus how many were screened by the following Newfront presenters (apologies in advance for it not being in alphabetical order — it mirrors the order of the cheat sheet):
AOL: 14 of 15
The lone show to not launch to date, “Fuego Your Life,” a style and beauty show from Telepictures Production. The show’s website claims it’s still “coming soon.”
The Weather Company: 5 of 6
“Virus Hunters,” which was originally pegged to launch in November 2013, is now scheduled to premiere sometime in 2014.
Yahoo: 6 of 7
The only show not to debut was a “WWE Raw Pre-Show,” which we at the moment can find no information on when searching Yahoo Screen. That said, there is a lot of other WWE content on Yahoo Screen as part of a deal announced during the 2013 Newfront.
Alloy Digital: 0–2 of 7
Alloy (now Defy) had a different approach — it only presented concepts for shows, which would only be made if an advertiser came on board. So far, none of the shows have been made. However, in September GroupM signed up to help make two of them — “Chasing” and “Encore” — though no release date has been set as of yet.
Hulu: 7 of 7
No surprises here, as the shows screened by Hulu (whether they were “originals” or international “exclusives”) were guaranteed to show up on the platform. Of the Newfront presenters, Hulu and Crackle consistently offer the most TV-like experiences and ad opportunities.
Blip: 2 of 5
“Hipsterhood” and “The Gauntlet” made it to air before Blip was acquired by Maker Studios. No word on what will happen with those other shows.
VEVO: 3 of 3
VEVO’s Newfront didn’t really feature any presentations outside of a few words from Scott Reich. It was mostly a concert, which was fine as the company’s Newfront slate focused on programming that was already out or plans that were already in place.
Disney Interactive: 3 of 11
This might come as a surprise, since Disney Interactive is part of a major media company that has the funds to produce this content. But the unit has had a very rough year, which probably affected the amount of shows it was able to produce and distribute.
Microsoft Advertising: 1 of 1
Microsoft’s presentation was… interesting. One actual online show they previewed was the second season of “The LeBrons,” an animated series from Believe Entertainment Group. The show did premiere as advertised. It will be interesting to see if the 2014 Newfront from Microsoft has more participation from Xbox.
CBS Interactive: 2 of 6
The only shows to launch were CNET’s tech-preview “Next Big Thing” and the second season of GameSpot’s “GameCrib” — both shows tied to established brands. “Baker Street Irregulars” and “Person of Interest: Animated,” two companion shows tied to CBS on-air programming are nowhere to be seen. Which suggests CBS would have only made them if there was an advertiser attached.
Crackle: 5 of 8
Only things yet to premiere: Season two of “The Bannen Way,” sequel to the film “Joe Dirt,” and “Strand Street.” That said, Crackle has already given additional seasons to “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” “Chosen,” and “Cleaners.”
Conde Nast Entertainment: 13 of 13
CNE only previewed programming from its GQ and Glamour channels during its 2013 Newfronts. Most of that content had already premiered by then, with a few more still to go. Moreover, some CNE shows have undergone title changes since first being announced. But overall it’s still been a great year for CNE, which launched seven original programming channels in 2013.
Looking across all of the presentations, this is a pretty good batting average. But the point remains, at the television upfronts, this isn’t even an issue. Every show will at some point air on TV. Now some might not be successful; they might bomb and be canceled within a few weeks. But each will have a premiere date. Outside of a very few companies, that’s still not a guarantee online.