If you’re not familiar with the term “Newfronts” you’re not alone. Many people are still in the dark about what they are and their overall importance to an evolving media landscape. To put it simply, the Newfronts (which just wrapped up in New York) are for digital content what the Upfronts are for traditional television programming. Upfronts, if you’ve forgotten, is a presentation period for major networks to showcase new work to advertisers in order to secure ad dollars. It’s a pretty elaborate dog and pony show filled with alcohol, parties, and celebrities desperate to have their single cam comedy picked up. The Newfronts is that but for the newest Vimeo show or the latest women oriented programs by sites like Refinery29. Digiday provide a great recap of common questions about the New Fronts.
So why are they a game changer? Check out our reasons below.
1. Brings parity between how advertisers engage with digital content.
Digital content publishers have long waffled in an attempt to find the right way to monetize on content in a way that was efficient for advertisers and profitably for them. With Newfronts, those who make video content exclusively for the web can have an official forum to secure ad revenue upfront (hehe). Promised earnings can instill confidence and provide incentive to allocate the proper resources to their content. This can ultimately raise the bar in terms of overall quality for ad supported online-only content.
2. Levels the playing field between network conglomerates and digital content providers
Newfronts level the playing field for traditional media giants and digital demigods. Although Newfronts typically only showcase the upper echelon of digital companies -- think Buzzfeed and Facebook rather than independent youtube personalities-- there was still a rift between perception of micro-content providers and actual television. Not accounting for Netflix and Amazon (both of which generate revenue for the shows outside of the traditional advertising models) these providers now have a point of sale that replicates something that “real” television does. In addition, similar to how the upfronts bring awareness to new pilots to marketers and viewers alike newfronts allows for pr and word of mouth marketing. People know what to look for rather than stumbling across it via a bout of internet surfing.
3. Allows for diverse content to shine
As mentioned earlier, Refinery29 will be introducing a slate of progressive female centric programming to it’s line up. Although mainstream television is often about trends “Year of the Woman”, “Yeah of Cultural Diversity”, etc Newfronts ups the ante by turning trends into mainstays for underrepresented groups and their stories. It forces traditional media to continue to push the boundaries to capture audiences that are constantly looking elswhere for representation.
4. Breaks the hollywood system in half
Nepotist network executives hob nobbing with the hand that feeds them isn’t exactly the Newfront crowd. Young, creative, tech focused, and hungry content creators from the biggest startups in the world are the lifeblood of the Newfronts. Although it isn’t exactly easy to get independent content properly funded and produced by these companies, it does open the very much closed doors of Hollywood to the general public. From screenwriters, cinematographers, producers, etc the look and feel of who makes up the television landscape is different on the digital content side and the Newfront is a microcosm of that.
One important caveat in the Digiday article was the issue of scarcity in the network and cable television market vs. digital. Even with a hundred niche channels on cable there is still a very finite amount of primetime space for advertisers to bid on. According to digiday, there is no such scarcity in digital and no finite number biddable space leaving little risk and reward in this digital version of a future’s markets. However, that’s not exactly true. In the current space there is a finite amount of players who are providing long-form, unique original programming. Getting in early on one of these could be a huge win for advertisers.