Netflix Cancels Live Advertising Upfront Slated for Company-Owned Paris Theater in New York on May 17

Netflix has canceled what would have been it first live programming upfront for advertisers, slated for May 17 at the streamer’s Paris Theater in New York City. Instead, the event, which typically includes the appearance of content stars, will be held virtually.

While the streamer, which last December launched an ad-supported SVOD option, gave no official explanation for the change, media reports suggest the move was done due to planned picket lines by striking Hollywood writers. With much of the issues surrounding the Writers Guild of America’s strike involving higher compensation for streamed content, the labor strife has been unofficially called the “Netflix Strike.”

Ted Sarandos (Shutterstock image)

With a $17 billion annual content war chest, the SVOD pioneer and world’s largest subscription streaming video platform is an easy target for strikers. At the same time, Netflix has become sensitive to the strike, with co-CEO Ted Sarandos canceling a planned appearance at next week’s PEN America Gala (also in New York), where he was to receive the Visionary Award from the literary group.

“Given the threat to disrupt this wonderful evening, I thought it was best to pull out so as not to distract from the important work that PEN America does for writers and journalists, as well as the celebration of my friend and personal hero Lorne Michaels. I hope the evening is a great success,” Sarandos said in a statement.

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In a statement, PEN said it admires “Sarandos’ singular work translating literature to artful presentation on screen, and his stalwart defense of free expression and satire.”

“As a writers organization, we have been following recent events closely and understand his decision,” PEN said.

With content writers alleging their profession is being marginalized into a gig economy, adding fuel to the fire was last month’s Netflix SEC disclosure that co-founder/executive chairman Reed Hastings and Sarandos saw their total 2022 financial compensation increase to $51 million and $50.3 million, respectively.

AVOD Service Tubi to Hold First-Ever Advertising Upfront

Fox Media’s ad-supported VOD platform Tubi March 15 announced it would host its first-ever conference for advertisers, Tubi Connect, on March 23 at Spring Studios in Manhattan, N.Y.

The event, which mirrors network television advertising upfronts, will preview a half-day of content programming and how Tubi is connecting with the right consumer audiences and delivering brand impact at scale.

Tubi has been projected to generate upwards of $1 billion in advertising revenue by 2024.

“Now is a great time to give our brand and agency partners a closer look at Tubi’s strategy for the coming year as well as our unique POV across trending topics in the video investment ecosystem,” Mark Rotblat, chief revenue officer, said in a statement.

Sessions at Tubi Connect will cover everything from streaming marketplace predictions for the year ahead, and new forms of driving impact in streaming entertainment, to how brands can tap into data for more effective and efficient campaign planning. The conference will also highlight why streamers should create content that appeals to all types of audiences, as opposed to the masses, to drive viewer engagement and loyalty.

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Tubi executives set to address the upfront include founder/CEO Farhad Massoudi, CMO Nicole Parlapiano, CRO Mark Rotblat, CCO Adam Lewinson, and Tyler Fitch, SVP of advanced TV and partnerships.

In addition, a number of brand and content partners will be featured, including Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr., writer and director of the upcoming Tubi Original, “Cinnamon,” produced by Village Roadshow Pictures and starring Damon Wayans, Hailey Kilgore, David Iacono and Pam Grier, representation from New Belgium’s Voodoo Ranger, and Tubi’s agency partner, VaynerMedia.

Tubi, which Fox acquired in 2020 for $440 million, recently reported a 44% year-over-year increase in viewing (2022 calendar year vs 2021) and more than 5 billion hours streamed in 2022. With 64 million monthly active users, Tubi touts a library of 50,000 movies and TV shows and 200+ FAST channels from 455 content partners.