NewFronts Streamlined, But Video Remains Front And Center

This year’s NewFront presentations are streamlined from years past, with far fewer companies presenting, and all participating events taking place this week (with another set of presentations planned for the West Coast later this year).

Still, some things remain the same. Once again, video rules the roost, with every presenter poised to play up their video chops.

That being said, media buyers surveyed by Video Insider say they expect a few twists as the week goes on. For starters: live is the new premium. While in past years companies presenting at the newfronts have emphasized the premium nature of their content, this year there should be more focus emphasis on live programming.

That is particular true for many of the largest presenters -- Twitter, YouTube and ESPN -- all of which are investing heavily in live content.

Indeed, at Twitter's NewFront last night, "live" was the word of the evening.

“We have all heard the expression that a photo is worth a thousand words, we see this on Twitter every day,” said Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s head of video. “But video, and live video in particular, can make you feel like you are experiencing the world through someone else’s eyes, teleporting you into that persons shoes, creating a shared experience. That is why video is such an important focus area for us as we look to help people see and share what is happening.”

The NewFronts are, of course, an industry event, but that does not mean consumers aren’t aware of what’s happening. As with the TV industry’s upfront presentations, the NewFronts are often a source of news around new content initiatives and programming.

According to the 2018 Digital NewFronts Sentiment Forecast from Matrix Solutions, 57% of consumers surveyed are excited about content from YouTube, which will unveil its slate at a presentation Thursday evening, while 32% are interested in Hulu, which will announce Wednesday morning. The survey also found that a significant number of consumers were interested in content from news organizations such as the BBC and The New York Times.

Still, there is no question that the biggest brands most known for video, such as YouTube and Hulu, have a leg up in building buzz.

Another question that media buyers have is what role subscriptions will play. ESPN launched its streaming subscription service ESPN+ in April, while parent company Disney is planning an entertainment subscription service next year. Both will have advertising support. Will it be a focal point at the ESPN presentation? Likewise, will other publishers consider ad-supported subscription products?

The NewFronts are changing as the media industry itself changes. Video remains a key driver of advertising growth, but innovations of video products and services are changing at a rapid pace. 

That innovation, more than anything else, may be the story of the week.

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