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Upfront Week Shocker: Netflix Shifts to All-Virtual Event

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Upfront week is getting a major last-minute change.

Netflix’s first upfront week event, originally slated for May 17 at 5 p.m. at New York’s Paris Theater, is switching from an in-person to a virtual presentation, Adweek has learned.

The streamer informed attendees of the change in a note on Wednesday night, adding, “We look forward to sharing our progress on ads and upcoming slate with you. We’ll share a link and more details next week.”

The new event will be “produced to stream,” Netflix told Adweek exclusively, However, it will no longer take place at the Paris Theater, and there will no longer be a reception following the event.

The streamer also confirmed to Adweek that it “made the decision to have no talent at the presentation as well.”

Netflix made waves in upfront week in January, announcing it would be taking Paramount’s vacated Wednesday evening slot for its first-ever appearance at the annual advertising showcase.

The Paris Theater was a natural spot for Netflix’s presentation, as the streamer has called the iconic movie hall home since 2019. However, the choice of a smaller venue also presented some challenges for marketers.

The presentation was one of the most sought-after for upfront week attendees, with many excited to see the historically ad-averse streamer’s debut in the advertising showcase, but the Paris Theater’s limited seating made tickets difficult to come by, Adweek learned after talking with several buyers.

UPDATE: Netflix shifted to a virtual event after the Writers Guild of America—which is on strike—told the New York Police Department it would disrupt Netflix’s upfront event, which sparked NYPD concerns about pedestrian safety, according to a source familiar with the matter.

While Netflix didn’t give an official reason for the change, the lack of network talent for Netflix’s first event—which one would have expected to be star-studded—is a likely indication that celebrities were wary of crossing WGA picket lines.

The strike, which is entering its second week, already caused disruptions during NewFronts presentations, with picketers semi-blocking the entrance to Peacock’s event at Center415 in New York.

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