Amazon Jumps Into Upfronts Fray, Slating An Event During Mid-May Series Of Network And Streamer Pitches To Ad Buyers

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Amazon is joining the upfronts crowd, scheduling an event on May 14, in the middle of a series of presentations to ad buyers by media and tech companies.

The tech giant will host its first event on the morning of May 14, pitching ad buyers on Amazon’s streaming TV offerings, including Prime Video, Prime Video Sports, Twitch, Amazon Freevee and Amazon Music.

The past few months have been consequential ones for Amazon in terms of its streaming video ad business. Thursday Night Football notched a 24% year-over-year increase in viewership in its second season, and ads have recently been added to Prime Video programming (except for subscribers choosing to pay an extra $3 a month).

Amazon for several years has mounted significant presentations during the NewFronts, a similar stretch earlier in the spring devoted to digital and streaming players and their overtures to advertisers. Plans call for Amazon to retain some presence during the NewFronts, though the exact nature of it has not been finalized.

The move by Amazon adds momentum to an upfront week that will be teeming with the most events since before Covid altered the landscape. For decades, broadcast networks had convened upfront events, wining and dining advertisers with talent-laden pitches across New York City. While some of that heritage remains, Big Tech interlopers have altered the tenor of the week, with Netflix and YouTube joining Amazon in the cluster.

The strategic focus for streaming has shifted dramatically toward advertising over the past couple of years. Netflix and Disney rolled out ad-supported subscription tiers in late-2022. Disney also has gained full financial control of Hulu, a force in the streaming ad sector.

Amazon has faced questions recently about the future of Freevee, one of the pillars of its ad business, in light of Prime Video now including ads in films and series. On Wednesday, in response to a story in Adweek and mounting industry chatter that Freevee was about to be shut down or consolidated, Amazon maintained in a statement to Deadline that “no changes” would be coming to Freevee. The 5-year-old outlet is available to all viewers, regardless of whether they have a Prime subscription.

As far as the rest of the upfront field, the only major company opting not to mount a major presentation is Paramount Global, whose CBS division was long known for its lavish Carnegie Hall event each spring.

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