There’s a big last-minute change in Upfront week.
Netflix’s first pre-week eventoriginally slated for May 17 at 5 p.m. at the Paris Theater in New York, it’s transitioning from an in-person to a virtual presentation, Adweek has learned.
The streamer informed attendees of the change in a note Wednesday night, adding, “We look forward to sharing with you our progress on ads and the upcoming program. We’ll post a link and more details next week.”
The new event will be “produced for streaming,” Netflix told Adweek exclusively. However, it will no longer take place in the Paris theater and there will be no reception after the event.
The streamer also confirmed to Adweek that he “made the decision not to have any talent in presenting either.”
Netflix caused a stir in the week leading up to January when it announced it would take over Paramount’s vacated Wednesday night slot for its first-ever appearance at the annual commercial.
The Paris Theater was a natural place for Netflix to showcase, as the streamer has called the iconic cinema hall home since 2019. However, choosing a smaller venue also presented marketers with some challenges.
The presentation was one of the most sought-after among preweek attendees, and many were looking forward to seeing the historically advertising-shy streamer’s debut in the promotional showcase, but limited seating at the Paris theater made it difficult to get tickets, as Adweek did after one Talking to learned about several buyers.
TO UPDATE: Netflix switched to a virtual event after the Writers Guild of America — which is on strike — told NYPD that it would be disrupting Netflix’s pre-event, raising concerns about the safety of pedestrians triggered.
Although Netflix didn’t give an official reason for the change, the lack of network talent for the first Netflix event – which one might have expected to be star-studded – is a likely indication that celebrities balked at making the WGA to cross the picket line.
The strike, entering its second week, has already disrupted NewFronts presentations as pickets partially blocked the entrance Peacock’s event at Center415 in NYC.
Pickets are also reportedly targeting NBCUniversal’s May 15 event at Radio City Music Hall. But Mark Marshall, president of advertising sales and customer partnerships, said Adweek that “NBCU will have an extremely strong pre-show and there will still be great talent.”
TO UPDATE: On Thursday morning, in response to Netflix’s move to a virtual preview, the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) sent Adweek the following statement:
“Members of the Writers Guild of America are on strike. We planned a legal, peaceful Netflix picket action at the Paris Theater in New York City, where the streaming giant wants to sell advertisers who use the content created by the writers, but at the same time refuses to negotiate a fair contract with the writers. Last week, more than 1,000 WGA members, as well as members of SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the Teamsters demonstrated in front of Netflix’s New York office. The union will continue to picket Netflix and other studios until the companies are willing to negotiate a fair deal that addresses the legitimate concerns of the writers.”