Disney Pulls Hulu From NewFronts, Plans Company-Wide Advertiser Showcase
When Walt Disney Co. talks to Madison Avenue going forward, it will be with one voice.
The media giant will in weeks to come hold three different meetings with advertisers to describe new marketing opportunities across its portfolio of assets. As a part of that plan, Disney will no longer hold a separate presentation for its Hulu streaming-video hub, as has been tradition for the last several years. Hulu’s showcase for advertisers took place during the industry’s annual “NewFronts,” a series of events organized by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade organization that represents digital-media companies.
In a world where more consumers are increasingly watching their favorite video pieces via broadband, however, the gap between digital and traditional media is narrowing. Disney intends to include discussions around Hulu advertising in talks around the rest of its media properties. Adweek previously reported on Disney’s plans.
Other media companies have already made similar efforts. NBCUniversal has for some time talked to advertisers about purchasing digital and linear TV inventory as part of a broader package. Simply put, advertisers are more eager to line up commercials across both digital streaming and traditional TV watching, and they are increasingly armed with the technology that helps them do so.
Disney plans to hold a series of meeting with advertisers leading up to a more traditional May 18 presentation during what is known as the industry’s “Upfront Week.” During upfronts, U.S. TV companies try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the next programming cycle. Digital companies have tried to take part in the season by holding “NewFronts,” a series of showcases that usually take place earlier in the month.
On February 23, Disney’s ad-sales unit will host an invite-only showcase that is designed to highlight the company’s investment in using data and measurement, as well as its work to build new types of advertising experiences and transactions. Clients can expect a discussion of how advertising is changing and how Disney can use its assets to take part in that evolution. On March 23, the company will hold a showcase to discuss program development.
And in May, Disney will highlight its broader portfolio, including ABC, ABC News, Disney Channels Worldwide, Disney Digital, ESPN Networks, ESPN+, Freeform, FX Networks, Hulu and National Geographic Networks.
The Hulu NewFront presentation has been one of the highlights of the sessions. In past events, Hulu has unveiled ambitious programming plans that highlighted work with actors like Kate McKinnon, as well as new ad innovations that harness the interactive nature of streaming video.
Disney took firmer control of Hulu in 2019 after buying Fox’s stake in the business as part of its acquisition of that company’s cable and studio assets and after agreeing to trigger a sale or purchase of Comcast’s one-third stake in the venture by January of 2024. In a different era, Hulu ad sales were governed by a distinct executive, but in recent months, the parent company has worked to weave its advertising more closely with the rest of its portfolio.
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