Upfronts Recap with Director of Broadcast, Nathalie Dupont

This year’s Upfront presentations from the “Big Three” showcased more than just your typical linear fall schedules.  As expected, Rogers, Corus and Bell Media showcased their returning favorites along with fresh new shows for this year’s fall lineup.  The most notable and refreshing change during this Upfront season, is the emphasis on how and where content is being consumed.  As Media Experts predicted, Connected TV is booming, and will be driving all broadcast video for the foreseeable future as broadcasters are looking for ways to maximize advertiser dollars into this landscape.   

This year, Rogers’ approach set the stage in terms of what to watch out for with their Full Stream Ahead conference that aired one week prior to the Upfront presentation.  With a panel of industry leaders discussing the benefits of a holistic video strategy, gone are the days of siloed execution against quality broadcast content.  Advertisers now have the opportunity for campaigns to generate mass awareness through linear TV complimented by audience targeting and unduplicated reach through Connected TV and streaming platforms.  The Rogers Total TV themed Upfront presentation followed this lead.  With only two new shows (Quantum Leap and The Jennifer Hudson Show) to add to their existing line up of crime and medical dramas, Rogers focused their energy on highlighting that video is everywhere and so readily available, bringing the Total TV experience across all platforms.  With headlines across their properties such as CityTV turning 50, and the MLB/NHL live on Sportnets Now available next season, Rogers will be increasing their digital footprint, providing multiple spaces for audiences to engage with content. 

Corus is making waves this year with their solid fall schedule including four new shows, with Fire Country, So Help Me Todd, The Real Love Boat and Monarch to join their existing fan favorite top hits like Survivor, 9-1-1 and New AmsterdamCorus pushed through the amplification of reach and awareness of great content available across multiple platforms.  Corus was the first Canadian broadcaster to partner with Roku is now available on Samsung Smart TV and soon to be available on LG Smart TV.  It was also announced that Corus will launch Pluto TV this fall.  This free ad supported service will launch with more than 100 unique curated channels and over 20,000 hours of content and will offer a large variety of programming including drama, comedy, lifestyle, kids’ movies and news.  The combination of all Corus properties such as Premium Video On Demand, Stack TV, the Global TV App and audio favorite Curiouscast, will drive the success of reaching audiences no matter where they choose to consume their favorite content. 

Bell Media followed suit by making connections with audiences through premium content available for that lean back experience across multiple platforms. With the biggest number of new shows of all three broadcasters, Bell Media showcased their dedication in investing within their portfolio to address the need for more access in viewing options. Buzz worthy newcomers to the fall lineup such as East New York, Alaska, The Rookie: Feds, Alert and Night Court can all be viewed across linear along with streaming options such as CTV.ca and the CTV app.  Bell Media has also embarked in a partnership with Canada’s leading connected TV platform Roku, further solidifying the understanding of shifting consumption habits.  Additional investments have been made in the audio space with IHeart Radio, podcasts and digital audio ad insertion within their radio platforms.  Bell’s presentation touched on linear being very much alive and relevant, as it remains the quickest way to build brands, but made sure to address the changing landscape through key investments in content, creativity and access to multiple viewing options for audiences. 

 It wasn’t so long ago that the focus across the Upfront presentations was linear centric, showcasing the “what” through procured content filling up their fall schedules, each bragging about the exciting new shows that should take top spot in the rankings.  Media Experts has been ahead of the curve in our industry as we have been addressing the decline and migration in linear audiences for two years now.  Our strategic planning has been fashioned on the premise that video and audio need to live holistically throughout our campaigns to ensure that we are addressing audiences however and wherever they choose to consume that quality broadcast content. It is encouraging to see that now broadcasters and media professionals alike are looking at this landscape as an ecosystem where Linear and streaming platforms can feed off each other to provide the most robust and successful campaigns for our clients.