Media Giants Lean More on Sports during Upfronts Week

Media Giants Lean More on Sports during Upfronts Week

Last year, media giants had to rely heavily on sports to attract advertisers during the Upfronts week due to a Hollywood strike and cost-cutting measures that affected their content and star power. As a result, this year’s presentations continued to lean more towards sports rather than scripted shows. The aftermath of the previous year’s work stoppage meant that some media companies had a limited number of series and movies to showcase during their presentations. Companies like Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery had to implement cost-cutting strategies, further exacerbating the situation.

The traditional media landscape is facing two significant challenges, according to Tom Rogers, Oorbit Gaming and Entertainment executive chairman and former NBC Cable president. The first challenge is the decline of traditional TV, while the second is the increasing fees associated with airing live sports. This has forced companies to reduce their content spending, leading to a decrease in entertainment programming. Companies like Disney highlighted upcoming series like “Agatha All Along” and “Daredevil: Born Again” for Disney+, but for cable network FX, they only focused on series like “The Bear.” Similarly, Warner Bros. Discovery showcased spinoffs of HBO series like “House of the Dragon” and “And Just Like That.”

Amy Leifer, chief advertising sales officer at DIRECTV Advertising, emphasized that a strong content slate, whether sports or entertainment, is crucial in the modern TV landscape. With the rise of ad-supported streaming services, the TV experience is now heavily reliant on both content and advertising. Streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have recently introduced cheaper ad-supported tiers, showcasing a mix of sports, films, and series during the Upfronts.

The Future of Film and TV

During the Upfronts, films played a significant role, especially after streaming services like Peacock received boosts from blockbusters like “Oppenheimer.” The summer movie box-office season is expected to shrink this year, but a ramp-up is anticipated in the fourth quarter with major titles like “Wicked,” “Joker: Folie a Deux,” “Gladiator II,” “Moana 2” and others hitting theaters. Additionally, the calendar for 2025 and 2026 promises a significant boost in content, including films from major franchises like Marvel and Star Wars.

Focus on Live Sports

Live sports continue to be a prominent feature at the Upfront presentations, drawing in large audiences and advertising dollars. The NFL, in particular, maintained its supremacy at most presentations this year. The Summer Olympics and NBA were also highlighted as key components of the programming. NBCUniversal placed a significant emphasis on the upcoming Summer Olympics in Paris, while Netflix secured a deal to air NFL games on Christmas Day for the next three years.

Media giants continue to rely heavily on sports during the Upfronts week, as it remains a key driver of advertising revenue. The evolving TV landscape, fueled by the rise of streaming services, poses challenges and opportunities for traditional media companies. As the industry navigates through these changes, the focus on strong content, including sports, entertainment, and films, will be crucial in attracting viewers and advertisers.


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