For the first time in history, Viacom and ESPN attended the Digital Content NewFronts in New York City, which are held in May. The NewFronts were originally designed to create an upfront marketplace for digital video, where media companies could present upcoming programming to advertisers. It was modeled after the long tradition of the network TV upfronts, which introduce new television shows to media planners and buyers.
“There is going to be an aspect of our show where it’s going to be about the content, which, frankly, the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) wants. The IAB has positioned the NewFronts to talk about compelling programming designed and built for digital, and we want to be respectful of that,” said Travis Howe, SVP of platform ad sales strategy and global operations at ESPN. “But in the digital space, it’s difficult to talk only about content. We’re taking this opportunity to talk about our scale, size and the ways we can support advertisers in reaching sports fans.”
Twitter showed off partnerships with publishers and networks, describing plans with ESPN, Viacom, NBC Universal, Hearst, Major League Baseball and others. ESPN will now be using “Sports Center” to break into live sports coverage on Twitter from a new account, @SCLive. The Weather Channel is also creating a new brand specifically for Twitter called Pattern.
“To some extent, part of the reason why you’re seeing more traditional media companies this year [at the NewFronts] is because we’re finally at an inflection point where traditional media companies are really taking digital more seriously. There’s real investment in terms of both resources and dollars toward it,” said Kelly Day from Viacom.
Overall, it seemed that almost every digital brand has connected itself with traditional content creators to boost their credibility. The NewFronts are now starting to look a lot more like the TV upfronts, with Hulu, YouTube, Walt Disney & Conde Nast all presenting.