Leading Digital Transformation

2022 Upfronts and NewFronts Showcase CTV’s Impact on Pop Culture

The Storied History of TV’s Upfronts

TV advertisers are well familiar with the “Upfronts,” events where broadcast television stations showcased their up-and-coming shows and seasonal line-ups to media and advertisers in order to secure advertising for premium primetime slots. The Upfronts have been around since 1962. But the NewFronts are gaining in momentum.

What are the NewFronts?

Much like their counterpart, the Upfronts, the Newfronts are a way to draw in advertising dollars. Media companies present their digital content over a series of events in May to a select audience of advertisers. Publicis Groupe’s Digitas is credited with creating the first “NewFront” in 2012. It was billed as a “programmatic upfront” event, and AOL, Digitas, Hulu, Google/YouTube, Microsoft Advertising, and Yahoo!, the largest players in the game at that time, joined in to host. Today, leading media publications such as Adweek, Digiday and Ad Age give as much weight to the Newfronts as they do the Upfronts.

Why the NewFronts are more relevant than ever

Did you know that the average TV viewer in 2021 had 5 or more streaming subscriptions?1 If you look at the graph below, that number has steadily increased since 2018. This is probably due to both more streaming options becoming available and the increase of culturally relevant and prestige TV being offered exclusively through streaming services.

Take, for example, the viral Netflix docuseries, “Tiger King.” The show was exclusively on Netflix and spawned a flurry of memes, media commentary and is currently being adapted into a dramedy starring SNL’s Kate McKinnon. Hulu exclusive, The Handmaid’s Tale, is also a pop culture mainstay. With passionate voters on both sides of the aisle invoking it to illustrate their political concerns.

The ultimate point being that in 2022, consumers need access to some kind of streaming service in order to participate in pop culture. The same just cannot be said for broadcast television in this particular moment. Just as the number of streaming subscribers is consistently rising, the number of people canceling their cable subscriptions is steadily increasing. In 2019, 4.9 million people canceled their cable subscriptions and in 2020, 5.1 million followed suit. Experts predict that around 5 million will “cut the cord” in 2022.2 CTV is also the preferred channel for younger consumers. With studies finding that nearly all Americans aged 25-34 access TV content through the internet and 90% of them prefer to stream content.3

The Future of the NewFronts and Upfronts

Someday there might not be a difference between the two. The rise of CTV and streaming services means that the wall between the two forms of entertainment might fall. In fact, it’s already started. Streaming giant Hulu announced they would participate in the Upfronts, instead of the Newfronts in 2022.4

Highlights from the 2022 NewFronts and Today’s Hottest Streaming Services

In 2021, advertising revenue reached $52.9 billion for non-linear video achieved across CTV devices5 and companies are looking to grab their share of the pie in 2022.

  • According to a survey from iSpot.tv, 8 in 10 brands plan to allocate some of their Upfront budget to advertise with Hulu. Peacock and YouTube TV are drawing in a significant number of advertisers, with 52% and 49% of brands saying they are planning to advertise with them. 6
  • YouTube kicked off the 2022 event with a livestream as the NewFronts went hybrid for the first time.
  • Netflix is the ultimate wild card in 2022. The subscription streaming service announced they are considering supporting ads in Q4 – and experts predict brands will rush to get in on the ground floor.
  • Variety reports that major players such as Amazon, NBCU’s Peacock, Roku, Samsung, Fox’s Tubi and Vizio focused on in-content product placements and analytics and measurement.
  • CTV company, Vizio, made their first in-person appearance at the NewFronts.
  • Increased focused on original programming: the fight for viewers and subscribers is tight, and media companies are looking to original titles as a key differentiator. Tubi, Roku, Crackle and Amazon all presented original content and Tubi and Crackle each committed to over 100 original titles in 2022.
  • Free media streaming players are expanding. Variety notes that Paramount’s Pluto TV did not attend and the only free media streamer that did not announce an expansion was Peacock.7
  • TikTok used its presentation to unveil TikTok Pulse – a contextual advertising solution that would allow advertisers to place their content next to top content in a viewers “For You” feed.
  • Twitter avoided talking about Elon Musk potentially buying the social media platform – despite it dominating the news cycle for weeks. They also announced “Twitter Amplify” which, like TikTok’s pulse, would place sponsored ads next to video content from Twitter partners.
  • Fast-food chain, Wendy’s, announced that they will be the first virtual restaurant to hit the Metaverse. Look for Wendyverse in Meta’s Horizon Worlds.
  • Megan Thee Stallion whipped the crowd into a frenzy to close out the event.

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Natasia Langfelder
Content Marketing Manager

As Content Marketing Manager, Natasia is responsible for helping strategize, produce and execute Data Axle's content. With a passion for writing and an enthusiasm for data management and technology, Natasia creates content that is designed to deliver nuggets of wisdom to help brands and individuals elevate their data governance policies. A native New Yorker, when Natasia is not at work she can be found enjoying New York’s food scene, at one of NYC’s many museums, or at one of the city’s many parks with her two teacup yorkies.