newfronts-2016-guide

Between May 2nd and May 13, 2016 38 digital media brands will descend upon New York City for the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)’s annual NewFronts. In turn, the participating brands will reveal their content plans for the upcoming year and pitch their respective programs to assembled advertisers.

This year’s presenters run the gamut from National Geographic to Playboy, and each participating company heads to the NewFronts with its own goals in mind. If you’re planning to attend any of the events, consider this your complete guide. For each multi-channel network, platform, consumer brand, and/or industry partner, we’ll tell you what they’ve shared before, what we expect them to share this year, and (most importantly, of course) the celebrities we hope they’ll roll out in their dog and pony shows in hopes of wooing advertisers.


The New York Times – Monday, May 2, 9 am

What they did last year: The Gray Lady was one of several companies to hype its virtual reality (VR) offerings during last year’s NewFronts. It also expanded its digital presence through existing properties like Dealbook and Op-Docs.

What we expect to see this year: We’re keen to get more details about Watching, an upcoming streaming TV curation engine. That project is expected to have some compatibility with NYT’s brand-facing T Brand Studio unit, and I suspect we’ll learn more details in that department.

Celebrity we want to see: Could food critic Pete Wells deliver a NewFronts address consisting entirely of rhetorical questions?


BuzzFeed – Monday, May 2, 12 pm

What they did last year: The viral content masters gave a terrifically detailed NewFronts presentation filled with data science and social psychology. They also touted their arrival on platforms like Facebook, where they’ve since made a big impact.

What we expect to see this year: BuzzFeed Motion Pictures has emerged as the primary brand behind BuzzFeed’s video operation, but once upon a time, that unit was rumored to be producing some actual movie and TV projects, too. Perhaps this is the presentation where Ze Frank makes an announcement or two about his company’s long-form plans. At the very least, we hope to hear from the creators who are working with BuzzFeed’s in-house Development Partners program.

Celebrity we want to see: After spending months ogling at mouth-watering GIFs provided by BuzzFeed’s Tasty team, will those same recipes be available IRL at the company’s presentation?


Bloomberg – Monday, May 2, 3 pm

What they did last year: The big announcement within Bloomberg’s 2015 presentation was an interactive, engaging, and mobile-friendly content platform called Responsive.tv.

What we expect to see this year: One year later, and Responsive.tv’s homepage is still a website in flux. More details about the project’s status are in order.

Celebrity we want to see: If he’s not going to run for president, the least Mike Bloomberg can do is run some upcoming projects past NewFronts attendees.


Refinery29 – Monday, May 2, 6 pm

What they did last year: The female-facing content creators of Refinery29 had a busy NewFronts slate last year. During its presentation, the media company hawked 29 different upcoming programs.

What we expect to see this year: The Shatterbox Anthology, which will include short films from female creators like Chloe Sevigny, is expected to arrive soon. It looks like it will be one of Refinery29’s biggest video projects to date, and it could feature prominently in the company’s upcoming presentation.

Celebrity we want to see: Sevigny herself would be a logical presenter, as would the YouTube stars involved in Refinery29’s Here & Now talent collective.


Maker Studios – Tuesday, May 3, 9 am

What they did last year: The big story of Maker’s 2015 pitch was a handful of original programs helmed by creators from within its network. Some of those projects have since premiered, while others are still pending.

What we expect to see this year: One of Maker’s biggest announcements from the past year was the launch of a global talent incubation initiative titled Spark. Has Maker selected any projects from that crop to fund as full series? And what role will advertisers play in the network’s future releases? We’re looking for answers to both of those questions.

Celebrity we want to see: PewDiePie is YouTube’s biggest star, and he’s also working on a Maker sub-network called Revelmode that we would love to hear more about.


Defy Media – Tuesday, May 3, 12 pm

What they did last year: Ten years after launching their channel, the comedy duo Smosh announced their second series, Every [Blank] Ever. Defy Media, which operates Smosh and other channels on YouTube, touted its own growth in the digital space.

What we expect to see this year: Defy Media has made a bold play with ScreenJunkies Plus, a paid subscription service that will feature premium content from creators like Kevin Smith. That offering should be the star of Defy’s NewFronts presentation, and additional content announcements related to it would not be a surprise.

Celebrity we want to see: Last year, “epic voice” Jon Bailey narrated a video about the NewFronts. This year, if he doesn’t narrate the whole thing, we riot.


Condé Nast Entertainment (CNÉ) – Tuesday, May 3, 3 pm

What they did last year: CNÉ’s digital slate is based around the home channels of close to 20 magazine brands. At its NewFronts presentation, the publisher announced dozens of new series for those channels, including a project from The Lonely Island that stars Community’s Danny Pudi…

What we expect to see this year: …and has still not yet arrived. Hey CNÉ, is The Tyler Zone happening?

Celebrity we want to see: With 2 Chainz’s help, CNE can deliver the “most expensivest” NewFront presentation.


AOL – Tuesday, May 3, 6 pm

What they did last year: AOL’s NewFronts slate typically features an assembly of celebrity-driven shows, and 2015, the programming lineup featured everyone from Jared Leto to Deion Sanders.

What we expect to see this year: This will be AOL’s first NewFronts presentation since it was acquired by Verizon, so we’ll if the telecom company is exerting any influence on AOL’s content plans. At the very least, we’re expecting a slightly diminished emphasis on serial projects in favor of live productions.

Celebrity we want to see: AOL should eschew a formal setting and let Steve Buscemi host their presentation while sitting on a park bench.


Hulu – Wednesday, May 4, 9 am

What they did last year: While it shared its progress report on a full lineup of programs, Hulu made the biggest waves by acquiring the entire Seinfeld library in what was reportedly a $180 million deal.

What we expect to see this year: Hulu will definitely have a whole slate of upcoming series to pitch to advertisers, but just as curious about the company’s expansion into film. It recently acquired a comedy feature called Joshy; could more movie deals be on the way?

Celebrity we want to see: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog thinks Hulu’s NewFronts presentation is a great event (for him to poop on).


Popsugar – Wednesday, May 4, 12 pm

What they did last year: Popsugar’s 2015 content slate — which aimed for an audience of young women — included contributions from the likes of Ingrid Nilsen and Above Average.

What we expect to see this year: Popsugar is one of the most active NewFronts presenters on Snapchat, and it could have some interesting and brand-friendly projects in the works on that platform.

Celebrity we want to see: It would be amusing to see the stars of Popsugar’s thriving fitness vertical to lead overdressed attendees in a NewFronts workout.


Yahoo – Wednesday, May 4, 3 pm

What they did last year: Yahoo’s 2015 spiel included a number of original programs and premium programming initiatives, but thanks to the collapse of the its original video unit, those shows are unlikely to make a significant impact.

What we expect to see this year: Yahoo’s video division is a mess right now, so to be honest, I’m not sure what attendees can expect to hear about. Maybe the tech company will be acquired between now and then.

Celebrity we want to see: No matter how dismal Yahoo’s original video presence may seem, at least they still have Katie Couric.


Hearst – Wednesday, May 4, 6 pm

What they did last year: This is Hearst’s first official NewFronts presentation, though the publisher’s Seventeen magazine has held its own unofficial events in the past.

What we expect to see this year: Like Condé Nast Entertainment, Hearst has its own array of publications for which it can develop digital channels. It also recently launched a content initiative with Verizon and teamed with the telecom company to acquire Complex Media. NewFronts would be a perfect place for more details from those ventures to emerge.

Celebrity we want to see: One of Hearst’s publications is the Food Network magazine, so I’ll be rooting for a spread catered by Bobby Flay.


Time Inc. – Thursday, May 5, 9 am

What they did last year: Last year was Time Inc.’s inaugural NewFronts presentation, and through its pitch, it demonstrated that it too has a full lineup of recognizable magazine brands. They all seem eager to move into the digital media space.

What we expect to see this year: Among other initiatives, we’re interested to learn about Time Inc’s partnership with Stylehaul, through which the two companies will create sponsored content. The program is designed to be brand-friendly; NewFronts will be the place to prove it.

Celebrity we want to see: Time Magazine profiled astronaut Scott Kelly’s Year In Space with a web series. Now that Kelly is back on Earth, he is free to pursue his true passion: Brand-facing advertizing events.


CNN – Thursday, May 5, 11:30 am

What they did last year: No presentation.

What we expect to see this year: Adweek has confirmed that Great Big Story, a CNN-funded, Vice-esque content portal that offers snazzy, well-researched segments to a hip, young audience, will be an integral part of CNN’s NewFronts presentation. That site has already run its share of branded pieces.

Celebrity we want to see: Anderson Cooper doesn’t have any important plans in 2016, does he?


DigitasLBi – Thursday, May 5, 2 pm

What they did last year: Digitas organized the first NewFront eight years ago; now, the since-merged-with-LBi DigitalLBi uses its annual slot to discuss deals with media companies like Vice and Vox.

What we expect to see this year: The DigitasLBi presentation is usually a fairly relaxed affair that spans multiple hours. It also tends to be one of the more TED Talk-y events on the docket, with tech execs spouting big ideas. Expect more of the same this year.

Celebrity we want to see: If DigitasLBi is going to chat with tech entrepreneurs, I’m rooting for an Evan Spiegel sighting.


YouTube – Thursday, May 5, 6 pm

What they did last year: YouTube’s annual Brandcast is typically the most hyped-up event on the NewFronts calendar. The leading video site tends to deliver glamorous, high-minded presentations that tell the stories of its creators, many of whom have risen from obscurity to be international celebrities. Brand testimonies and statistical figures that tend to include a lot of zeroes have also been par for the course in previous years.

What we expect to see this year: This will be the first Brandcast since the launch of YouTube Red, and it will be interesting to see if that service, despite being ad-free, plays a role in YouTube’s pitch. At the very least, we’ll get an update on Google Preferred, an advertising program that is entering its second year.

Celebrity we want to see: YouTube and Snoop Dogg seem to be getting along famously these days. Will the video site will liquor up present advertisers with some gin and juice?


Machinima – Friday, May 6, 9 am

What they did last year: Machinima’s 2015 NewFronts event followed up a 2014 rebrand that sought to improve creator relations. In order to show its progress, the gaming and fan culture network unveiled a host of new programs, some of which remain unreleased.

What we expect to see this year: In one word, e-sports. Machinima is bullish on the power, engagement, and watch time the e-sports community offers, and in order to reach that community, it is likely to renew its original programs in the live gaming arena while announcing several other initiatives in that space.

Celebrity we want to see: To celebrate the release of a new season of Street Fighter: Resurrection, Machinima execs should take to the stage in full Street Fighter cosplay attire.


Time Warner Cable – Friday, May 6, 12 pm

What they did last year: TWC invited several other cable companies to join a conversation about the future of cable. Tori Kelly gave a musical performance.

What we expect to see this year: Predicting the talking points of a company as large as Time Warner Cable is hard to do, especially since the telecom company doesn’t have a high-profile digital video presence. Time Warner subsidiary Turner recently led an investment in Mashable, so perhaps the media-focused publication will play a role in the cable provider’s presentation (although, as discussed below, Mashable will also have its own NewFront.)

Celebrity we want to see: Last year’s big performer was Kelly, a singer-songwriter known for her prowess on the acoustic guitar. Maybe this year TWC will go with another performer in that mold, such as occasional Kelly collaborator Ed Sheeran.


Vice – Friday, May 6, 3 pm

What they did last year: Vice’s 2015 NewFront presentation gave company CEO Shane Smith a chance to tease programming for a then-unnamed TV channel. That channel, Viceland, has since premiered, with filmmaker Spike Jonze serving as one of its leading executives.

What we expect to see this year: Viceland will likely get some shout-outs from Smith and his peers, but the NewFronts are still a digital-first event, and Vice’s online operation will get plenty of attention. Will Smith officially add a health destination to his company’s digital offerings?

Celebrity we want to see: If Action Bronson caters the Vice event with a selection of his favorite foods, I know what I will say.


Woven – Friday, May 6, 6 pm

What they did last year: No presentation.

What we expect to see this year: Woven, which owns brands like Uproxx and BroBible, is making its NewFronts debut one year after it made a big investment in its digital video operation. The company’s latest acquisition is HitFix, and it could build up its new entertainment site with a slate of original programs.

Celebrity we want to see: Uproxx’s Humans series profiles interesting people, and the show’s latest subject, Yung Jake, would make a truly strange and wonderful NewFronts presenter.


National Geographic – Monday, May 9, 9 am

What they did last year: Nat Geo announced several new projects, several of which aimed to crowdsource digital content from the publication’s network of adventurous subscribers. It also touted its success on Instagram, where it still has more followers than any other brand.

What we expect to see this year: In the past year, Nat Geo has seen huge growth on its YouTube channel, thanks in part to an increased number of episodes from its original series. Don’t be surprised to see more of the same, along with a few new nature shows thrown into the mix

Celebrity we want to see: One of Nat Geo’s newest TV programs is hosted by Morgan Freeman, whose unbeatable voice would be sure to enchant advertisers.


Fullscreen – Monday, May 9, 12 pm

What they did last year: At its first ever NewFronts presentation, Fullscreen unveiled a full slate of original programs and feature films led by the stars of its digital network. Give them credit — unlike many other NewFronts presenters, Fullscreen has already followed through on most of the projects it hyped during its 2015 pitch, including feature films like The Outfield and #O2LForever.

What we expect to see this year: The obvious star of the show will be fullscreen, a brand new streaming video on-demand service that houses a combination of originals, licensed programs, and social media tie-ins. There’s no doubt that Fullscreen (the company, with a capital f) will talk about fullscreen (the service, with a lowercase f). The only question is how Fullscreen will present its SVOD service, which doesn’t have any ads to see. A focus on branded content could be in the cards.

Celebrity we want to see: Fullscreen has plenty of high-profile network partners it can bring to its presentation, but as a member of the media, I’m crossing my fingers for a Shane Dawson appearance, since he’s most likely to say something shocking.


SheKnows Media – Monday, May 9, 3 pm

What they did last year: No presentation

What we expect to see this year: SheKnows is the newest addition to the NewFronts slate; it snapped up its slot after Vevo dropped out. Instead of music videos, attendees will now learn about parenting and lifestyle programs aimed predominantly at women. According to Adweek, one series that SheKnows will promote is The Pitch in which female entrepreneurs have 60 seconds to sell their respective products.

Celebrity we want to see: SheKnows made a web series with Joan Rivers in 2013. Hologram?


Newsy – Monday, May 9, 6 pm

What they did last year: No presentation

What we expect to see this year: Newsy has positioned itself as a digital news service aimed at Millennials. If this press release is any indication, the company’s presentation will be an interesting one. Newsy described its NewFronts shindig as an “interactive cocktail hour event that brings attendees into the fast-paced world of digital news reporting, featuring a slate of new and exciting editorial sponsorships and distribution announcements for both the publisher and platform side of the business.”

Celebrity we want to see: Newsy’s parent company, E.W. Scripps, recently purchased comedy website Cracked, and jokes are always welcome at the NewFronts. Here’s hoping for some cross-promotional levity.


The Economist – Tuesday, May 10, 9 am

What they did last year: No presentation

What we expect to see this year: The Economist is making its first pitch at the NewFronts, and according to Adweek, it will discuss a slate of digital documentaries. Given its esteemed position in the media landscape, the British publication could offer newsy vignettes with a less brash (but also less bold) tone than, say, Vice.

Celebrity we want to see: The Economist’s editor-in-chief is named Zanny Minton Beddoes. With a name like that, she’s a celebrity to me.


Studio 71 – Tuesday, May 10, 12 pm

What they did last year: Studio71 didn’t present, but Collective Digital Studios did. Now, they’re united under one banner. Collective’s pitch included a bunch of programs led by the stars of its digital network, but a year later, there isn’t a lot of visible progress on that slate.

What we expect to see this year: Studio71 can tout a multi-film deal with Paramount as evidence that its network partners are highly-influential individuals with whom brands should want to partner. I hope we’ll also get an update on Collective’s aforementioned 2015 NewFronts slate, too.

Celebrity we want to see: Studio71’s latest signee, Flula Borg, is the key to a Super Dope presentation.


StyleHaul – Tuesday, May 10, 3 pm

What they did last year: StyleHaul emulated its creative partners by hosting a fashionable event in a small space. Among other updates, it hyped up a new web series called Vanity, which was led by digital media vet Bernie Su.

What we expect to see this year: Remember that sponsored content deal we talked about in the Time Inc. section of this preview? That will be big news for StyleHaul too. The digital network should also have plenty more programming to share with potential advertisers; it just released a new show, Relationship Status, on go90.

Celebrity we want to see: iJustine, who is partnered with StyleHaul, has long been one of YouTube’s most familiar faces — not to mention one of its most brand-friendly voices.


HealthiNation – Tuesday, May 10, 6 pm

What they did last year: HealthiNation’s 2015 presentation was rather typical, by NewFronts standards: The fitness-first startup rolled through a slate of original programs before beginning the food and festivities.

What we expect to see this year: I’m guessing we’ll see more of the same: More original programming, more inspiring words for viewers who are looking to get in shape, and (hopefully, for those who attend) more guacamole.

Celebrity we want to see: Adweek described HealthiNation’s 2015 pitch as “possibly this year’s quickest NewFronts sell so far,” so perhaps just this once we’ll be free of needless celebrity cameos at a 2016 NewFronts presentation.


Whistle Sports – Wednesday, May 11, 9 am

What they did last year: At its inaugural NewFronts event, Whistle Sports touted itself as the only major multi-channel network dedicated entirely to athletic content. The guys from Dude Perfect showed up to toss around some footballs with members of the audience.

What we expect to see this year: Whistle Sports will sure have new content to unveil and new communities to promote, but more important, the network can give a shout out to one of its partners, Jeremy Lin, who is currently enjoying a terrific NBA playoff run.

Celebrity we want to see: The festivities will only be complete if Whistle Sports gets a PA announcer to introduce all its executives like they’re the 1996 Chicago Bulls.


IAB  Wednesday, May 11, 12 pm

What they did last year: NewFronts organizer IAB used its lunchtime slot to share new research related to digital media advertising. The main takeaway: The number of cord-cutters is rising.

What we expect to see this year: As far as I can tell, IAB has another year of insights for its lunch guests.

Celebrity we want to see: After more than seven days of nonstop NewFronts action, the open slot that follows this event will feel like a celebrity to me.


AwesomenessTV – Wednesday, May 11, 6 pm

What they did last year: No presentation.

What we expect to see this year: AwesomenessTV, like Studio71, has focused a lot of its energy on films in the past year, and it will be interesting to see how those long-form programs are offered to advertisers. The network’s roster of creative partners, who tend to reach valuable teen and tween audiences, are a much more natural sell.

Celebrity we want to see: Between his singing, vlogging, and acting, Ricky Dillon is a digital media Renaissance man. Can he add ad sales to his list of skills?


Activision/Blizzard – Thursday, May 12, 9 pm

What they did last year: No presentation.

What we expect to see this year: A video game company may seem like an odd NewFronts presenter, but several of the titles in Activision’s library, such as Call of Duty and Starcraft, are big deals in the e-sports community. As I mentioned in the Machinima section, advertisers have a lot of reasons to love e-sports, and Activision therefore can make a strong pitch.

Celebrity we want to see: Ben Brode, the lead designer of Blizzard’s Hearthstone, has an amazing laugh that can lighten up any NewFronts event.


WebMD – Thursday, May 12, 12 pm

What they did last year: No presentation.

What we expect to see this year: No longer just the place you go to self-diagnose your ills, WebMD is now providing original content to its visitors. One of its first programs was Future of Health with Robin Roberts, which should pop up again during WebMD’s NewFronts event.

Celebrity we want to see: I’m hoping WebMD brings a doctor to the house, because I’ve had this weird thing under my eye for a couple weeks now.


DailyMail/EliteDaily – Thursday, May 12, 3 pm

What they did last year:busy NewFronts event included contributions from YouTube stars, up-and-coming content creators, and (because why not) Piers Morgan. The two companies together pitched a host of programs to brands.

What we expect to see this year: Jon Steinberg, who led Daily Mail’s pitch last year, has since left the company to form his own video startup, but Daily Mail has retained its coveted spot in Snapchat’s Discover section, so some content for that platform could find its way into the mix.

Celebrity we want to see: I bet the Elite Daily employee who pretended to be an NBA draft pick could spend a lot of time as a (very tall) NewFronts pitchman before attendees realize he’s just spouting buzzwords.


NowThis – Thursday, May 12, 6 pm

What they did last year: No presentation.

What we expect to see this year: NowThis, like Newsy, is selling an approach to news that caters to the social media-hungry habits of today’s consumers. Its simple, stylish Tap For News app could be a fun part of its appeal to advertisers.

Celebrity we want to see: NowThis loves the Notorious RBG. Will she show up at the company’s NewFronts event? No. Would it be the coolest thing ever if she did? Yes.


Trusted Media Brands – Friday, May 13, 9 am

What they did last year: No presentation.

What we expect to see this year: You may now Trusted Media Brands by its former name, Reader’s Digest Association. Now, the 94-year-old media company wants to share a slate of digital programs with potential buyers.

Celebrity we want to see: The pages of Reader’s Digest are often filled with cats. Hey, Trusted Media Brands, the Internet loves cats, too! Can you bring one to your presentation?


Playboy – Friday, May 13, 12 pm

What they did last year: No presentation.

What we expect to see this year: Playboy is certainly the most amusing newcomer on the NewFronts slate, but the publication’s decision to launch into digital video makes sense. After all, in a world where innocuous YouTube videos with suggestive thumbnails get millions of clicks, why shouldn’t Playboy thrive?

Celebrity we want to see: Come on, you know the answer to this one.


Mashable – Friday, May 13, 3 pm

What they did last year: No presentation

What we expect to see this year: Mashable may be making its first NewFronts appearance, but it already has a big video business. Its numerous production deals, its desire to double down on video, and its millions of Turner dollars are good combination.

Celebrity we want to see: At the end of a seemingly endless NewFronts slate, what would be better than a tl;da (too long; didn’t attend) version of it?

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