Why This Year’s Upfronts Will Be More Complex Than Ever

  • Variety
It used to be simple.

Every May, in the annual ad-sales ritual known as Upfront Week, the major TV networks present their coming programming lineups to advertisers. Since 2007, Tuesday mornings have been reserved for ESPN, which always enlisted various team mascots, cheerleaders and on-air personalities to talk about sports.

No longer. Due to the recent purchase of the bulk of Fox assets by the Walt Disney Co., ESPN will now be part of a multi-network presentation held later in the day. In its place: At&T, the new owner of the company once known as Time Warner. But the freshly christened WarnerMedia won’t unveil a programming lineup until Wednesday. Before the entertainment, At&T wants to talk on Tuesday about consumer data and advertising technology.

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Television, one of the easiest media sectors to understand, has suddenly become exceedingly — even maddeningly — complex, and swapping easy-to-grasp chatter about football
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