Upfronts Evolution: Todd Talks With MediaPost

May 16, 2024

The upfronts have always been a big part of DeadLizard’s business. We provide clients with everything from presentation systems, branded premiums and support collateral to event GFX/signage support and digital campaigns. But the upfronts are changing. Partner and co-founder Todd Reinhart talked with MediaPost reporter Charlene Weisler about how the upfronts are evolving at an ever increasing pace.

“I see an acceleration and amplification of the forces that have driven change in the industry,” says Todd. “Core to this will be a continued divergence in the landscape in terms of the big and small players.”

Over the past decade, upfronts have undergone significant changes driven by shifts in storytelling, technology, and resources. Initially focused on talent, programming, and viewership, today's upfronts emphasize experience, narrative, and brand due to advancements in ad tech allowing for precise audience targeting.

Independent networks face challenges against media conglomerates, and while all upfronts have become more experiential and brand-centric, larger networks can leverage proprietary ad tech tools more effectively. Crafting a compelling upfront involves data-informed narratives, emotive messaging, and tailored strategies based on brand goals. Going forward, trends include a continued divide between big and small players, destabilization while big tech and legacy media jockey for position, technological advancements like AI-generated content, and the potential for immersive AR-driven upfront experiences in the future.

“Across the board, all upfronts have become more experiential in nature, but many of the independent networks skew toward a more historically traditional upfront where they tout talent and content and activate on that axis for building affinity and fandom,” says Todd. “Media giants can offer proprietary ad tech tool sets on a scale that independent networks cannot.”

Read the full discussion about the upfronts at MediaPost: “The Upfront Evolution Explained: Q&A With DeadLizard's Todd Reinhart