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

That’s precisely what we needed. We needed individuals to assume that they had been speaking to one another dwell whereas they weren’t.

Jon Steinlauf, on making the prerecorded upfront movies from expertise look like livestreams

You probably did have expertise seem in prerecorded segments. Was there a considered shifting absolutely to digital?
By no means, completely not. Now that the mud is settled on these three days, persons are speaking about, “What did this week imply to the way forward for the upfront presentation week?” I’ve been working on this trade a very long time, and I bear in mind once I first began, there was ABC, CBS, NBC; that’s all we had. However each took a day, and each took a lodge area, and there have been 400-500 individuals. That’s all they wanted to speak to at the moment. This trade was lots smaller. This can be a custom that goes again to as early as 1970. Now, flash ahead to 2023. We simply completed our first week ever the place we had been impacted closely by the strike. The exhibits aren’t what they was, however that’s what makes this week essential is it’s a celebration of not simply the normal tv community enterprise but in addition the streaming companies which can be essential to advertisers. That’s why Netflix needed to leap in and do no matter they may do. Shoppers hold coming in, and within the final three days, Warner Bros. Discovery has had 100 consumer conferences. I’d examine this to CES. I’d examine this to Cannes. I’d examine this to the Tremendous Bowl as some extent on the calendar the place the advert group and the tv and streaming group converge. We had an unbelievable quantity of individuals there yesterday. This strike, the picketers and lack of expertise didn’t hold individuals house. We are able to make a compelling present simply with our seven or eight high executives staying inside their lanes. Having Casey Bloys right here yesterday, for my part, he’s in all probability essentially the most profitable inventive government within the tv trade at this time. He’s by no means been in an upfront presentation earlier than. He’s by no means introduced on stage to advertisers. The rationale why he was right here is as a result of Max is changing into a extra essential a part of our firm to advert gross sales.

Would you do it in another way and think about having any sports activities or information expertise on stage? I’m additionally curious in regards to the choice to not have David Zaslav on stage. What was the considering there?
David made the choice. I don’t assume it was strike-related. I don’t assume he selected to not go up on stage due to the strike. I believe he selected to not go up on stage as a result of he has performed it for a very long time. And he’s been CEO of Discovery since 2007. I believe he needed to cede that function to different executives within the firm, as have quite a lot of his friends. When you concentrate on CEOs of those firms, it’s actually Brian Roberts; it’s Bob Iger; it’s David Zaslav. He appears at what the function is of the those who he considers to be his friends to him. In the event that they’re letting their executives get the publicity, we had Bruce Campbell [CRO] on stage. It’s a must to choose and select who’re the most effective executives that you really want the viewers to turn into extra aware of as time goes by. There have been some articles about we might have used David on stage as a result of he’s a celeb CEO to compensate for the dearth of star energy up on that stage. However he was there. He’s not making an attempt to say the advert enterprise will not be as essential to us because it because it was.

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