WBD’s Jon Steinlauf on Holding an Upfront Sans Stars, CEO


As upfront week shows wrap, Adweek’s postmortem chats with each advert gross sales chief proceed. We’ve already spoken with NBCUniversal’s Mark Marshall, Fox’s Marianne Gambelli, TelevisaUnivision’s Donna Speciale and Disney’s Rita Ferro. Subsequent up is Warner Bros. Discovery’s Jon Steinlauf.

In its first full 12 months as a merged firm, Warner Bros. Discovery is about to unveil Max, the mixed Discovery+ and HBO Max streaming service. And although streaming performed a giant function within the firm’s Wednesday morning presentation at The Theater at Madison Sq. Backyard, it additionally leaned closely on unscripted, information and sports activities content material, with solely executives showing on stage because of the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike.

Steinlauf talked in regards to the strike-prompted shift away from onstage expertise (and why CEO David Zaslav was additionally MIA), the corporate’s Max streaming technique and why—following a 2022 upfront the place “we in all probability didn’t carry out on the stage of expectation” provided that the WarnerMedia and Discovery merger closed simply weeks forward of talks—the corporate is in a a lot stronger place heading into this 12 months’s negotiations.

(This interview has been edited for size and readability.)

Adweek: You made it by means of upfront week. Wanting again, what are you most pleased with from this 12 months?
Steinlauf: I believe what we had been capable of accomplish was a really seamless run-through for all the content material. My a part of it, and my direct report Shereen Russell’s [evp, ad sales and inclusive content partnerships] a part of it on the very high, was designed to speak in regards to the points which can be essential to advertisers as we enter the upfront window. Shereen dealt with the variety, fairness, inclusion alternatives in our firm. That was one thing that we had by no means performed earlier than. We had by no means devoted a piece in the course of the upfront to variety. That’s an announcement to {the marketplace} that we wish to be a pacesetter in that space, and there’s a rising demand for sponsorships of content material that’s both created by, seen by or has a solid or theme round variety, fairness and inclusion. If there have been one community proper off the highest of my head that stands out in that space extra so than anything within the trade will probably be TLC, by way of presenting underrepresented teams in a constructive gentle on many, many collection on the community. I give Howard Lee quite a lot of credit score. He’s been the brains behind TLC for a very long time. Then, in fact, OWN is one other a part of the story, as is the NBA, as is CNN. And we’ve got U.S. Hispanic networks right here too. What I used to be making an attempt to do within the first 12 or 13 minutes, I used to be speaking lots about forex, superior promoting and streaming. And never simply streaming from an advert perspective.

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