The upfronts are a time-honored tradition of network media; in May, the biggest networks gather for a glitzy multi-day event in New York City to show off their new fall content. Advertisers flock to select the programming they’re most interested in pairing with, negotiating millions of dollars in ad buys, product placement, and tie-in marketing. Lots of booze, food, and money changes hands during the presentations as networks compete for valuable advertising dollars, and the upfronts have been going strong since the 1950s, even during periods of economic decline.
This year, the traditional upfront system is in for a radical change: Enter the Digital Content Newfronts, or simply the Newfronts. It’s the upfronts, but for digital content, and instead of being held in a cramped back room, it’s taking place under the bright lights previously accorded only to traditional programming.
In May, the US networks traveled to New York City for the upfronts, a glitzy event where they attempt to convince advertisers, and the public, that they’re still relevant. For advertisers, it’s a chance to jockey for space in the commercial breaks on the hottest shows of the fall schedule. For the rest of us, it’s a chance to see what we have in store on the 2011-2012 network television schedule, since we don’t have a say in the development process.
It’s certainly an eclectic lineup this year. The networks have apparently taken note of the less than delighted response to their offerings last season, so they’ve decided to mix things up in the fall. When you look below the surface, it’s a bit unclear how innovative the offerings are, though. Many of these shows appear to be the same old, same old, dressed up in a glossy new veneer. Perhaps eventually the networks will learn that you cannot keep redressing the same turkey in the hopes that people won’t notice.
We have not one but two fairytale retellings, a reminder that adaptations of fairy tales are hot in the publishing industry right now and apparently television felt like it needed to catch up. NBC’s Grimm is your bog-standard procedural… except that Detective Nick Burkhardt isn’t just a detective, he’s
The Slayer a ‘Grimm.’ Fairy tales are also coming to life over on ABC with Once Upon A Time. One fantasy drama might be interesting, but two just looks gimmicky. (Speaking of The Slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar will be returning to the small screen in Ringer on the CW. Blink and you might miss it.)