YouTube’s Brandcast NewFront Will Shift to Digital-Only Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Decision made as IAB creates streaming option for all NewFronts presentations

YouTube is the first NewFronts presenter to switch its presentation to a digital format. - Credit by YouTube Advertisers
Headshot of Kelsey Sutton

YouTube’s Brandcast, an annual presentation for advertisers that is part of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s NewFronts in New York, will stream over YouTube instead of the traditional in-person event this year, the company said today.

The news comes amid growing coronavirus concerns, which continue to impact planning around the digital media NewFronts and the television upfronts.

“Out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our customers, partners and employees, and in alignment with the best practices laid out by the CDC, WHO and other relevant entities regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), YouTube has decided to shift Brandcast to a digital-first event to be premiered on YouTube,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement. “We will share more details shortly.”

Earlier today, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which organizes the NewFronts, said it would allow and encourage companies to stream their presentations instead of relying only on live, in-person presentations that have long been the NewFronts norm.

“Based on feedback from longtime NewFronts participants, we at IAB strongly recommend streaming-only productions for all presenters,” the IAB said in a blog post about the new option. “However, we are committed to supporting the industry and believe that the new streaming option we’re outlining here allows for the most flexibility to serve your specific requirements.”

YouTube’s pivot to a digital-first presentation makes the company the first to shift its NewFronts plans in the wake of growing concerns about the coronavirus, which has led to travel restrictions and a number of industry event cancellations.

Upfronts season has already faced changes and cancellations over the virus. Both AMC Networks and A+E Networks canceled their live upfront presentations, and Fox News Media and Comcast’s FreeWheel canceled their plans to host live upfront events. CNN is the only television property to have hosted an upfront event this month.

The digital NewFronts are scheduled to begin April 27 and run for a week and a half. The IAB said that the slate of presentations would feature streaming companies like Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, Vudu and Roku, along with publishers like BBC News, The New York Times, Condé Nast and Meredith Corp.


@kelseymsutton kelsey.sutton@adweek.com Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.