May 17 is shaping up to be an important day in Netflix history. That will likely be the date for the streamer’s first-ever presentation during upfronts week.
The annual upfronts are usually held during May in New York City, where top broadcasters, publishers, and networks get the opportunity to tell agency buyers why their programming is worthy of significant spending. Before this year, Netflix never bothered with the upfronts (nor its digital sibling, the Newfronts). But with the streamer’s Basic With Ads tier launching in November, it now has ample inventory to sell to ad industry bigwigs.
Netflix confirmed to Adweek that it plans to make an upfronts pitch in 2023. The event is tentatively set for 5 PM on the 17th, with schmoozing to follow.
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It is important for Netflix to make a good impression with agencies and brands during its mid-May soirée. It’s not only the company’s first upfronts pitch, but also an opportunity to prove that Basic With Ads offers significant value. The reduced-price tier was put on the fast track and launched just six months after it was first announced, but Netflix failed to provide enough inventory to serve its initial ad partners. After paying back those advertisers to make up the difference, the streamer now has some explaining to do.
That task will fall to Jeremi Gorman (pictured above) and Peter Naylor, who Netflix hired as its first President of Worldwide Advertising and VP of Ad Sales, respectively. The two execs, who previously worked together at Snapchat, will use their upfronts pitch to tell potential buyers that Basic With Ads is just getting started.
“I’ve been spending my time listening to our partners, learning about their needs around the world and getting feedback on our road map so that we can continuously improve the service,” Gorman told Adweek. “What we launched with isn’t indicative of our long-term ambition.”
Naylor, who was at Hulu before joining Snapchat, has a long history with the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Despite that link, Netflix won’t be bringing its pitch to the IAB-organized Newfronts, which gathers digital platforms for a fast-paced week of spiels. Netflix is not the only internet-era brand to opt out of that showcase. Last year, YouTube hosted its annual Brandcast during upfronts week. For a decade prior, Brandcast had been one of the pivotal events during the Newfronts.