ViacomCBS, NBC cancel 'upfront' ad sales presentations

FILE PHOTO: The ViacomCBS logo is displayed on the Nasdaq MarketSite to celebrate the company's merger, in New York, U.S., December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - ViacomCBS and Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal said Thursday they will cancel their live “upfront” presentations, where advertisers preview upcoming TV shows, and will instead stream the presentations online as concerns about the coronavirus outbreak grow.

The annual series of glitzy presentations, held in May in New York City by major television broadcasters, is one of the most important advertising sales periods as brands purchase ads in advance for the next television season.

ViacomCBS said its CBS network will unveil new prime time shows in a video special online. “We’ll miss Carnegie Hall and our agency dinners this year, but the health and safety of our clients and the ViacomCBS team comes first,” said Jo Ann Ross, president and chief advertising revenue officer at ViacomCBS, in a statement.

NBCUniversal also said it would stream the presentation to “ensure everyone’s safety, while allowing us to give fans and marketers a preview of the upcoming season,” Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal, said in a separate statement.

Separately, Fox Corporation said it would cancel its live “Upfront” event scheduled for May 11 and will instead host a digital presentation, citing concerns over the virus outbreak.

Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Dan Grebler and Arun Koyyur