One year before today, Nickelodeon taking place its upfront presentation, that has long provided an excellent service to as the unofficial kickoff to the annual upfront season. However this year, the network isn’t controlling their regular huge upfront event. Rather, it’s following in the footsteps of its Viacom sibling networks-and numerous others via the industry-and changing spectacle for smaller organization meetings.
The modifications come as Nickelodeon enters the upfront with a completely new leader for the first time in 13 years: Brian Robbins, who came on in October following the June exit of longtime Nickelodeon Group president Cyma Zarghami.
Instead of its traditional upfront event—last year’s presentation added appearances by John Cena, JoJo Siwa, Nick Cannon as well as the cast of the SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical—Robbins and Sean Moran, Viacom’s head of marketing and partner solutions, opted for the latest approach this year.
Nickelodeon kicked off its upfront business at last month’s Toy Fair in New York, saying its new programming slate at a presentation for toy clients. Over the next two weeks, it conducted two extra group meetings in the Viacom building for agencies and holding companies, during which Robbins shared his new vision for the network and Moran made his upfront pitch. Robbins will likely then signify Nickelodeon together with the some other Viacom programming chiefs next month at the company’s upfront organization dinners, which Moran has long been holding since 2017.
This year’s upfront changeup talks to the team’s new mentality, “which is making certain that people see us as a solutions provider,” stated Moran. “We’re thereby making it much more tailored and intimate to them so we just think regarding what they require going forward.”
Viacom, which held five lavish upfront presentations as in recent times as 2016 for its various networks, abandoned many of those events two years back in support of smaller agency dinners. BET held an event in 2017 before this also created the switch, leaving Nickelodeon as the company’s last upfront event in 2018.
As Moran trimmed those presentations under his watch, he held onto the Nickelodeon event, in part due to the efforts to press the network’s brands and IP into other platforms, like Broadway. So last year’s Nickelodeon upfront was organized at New York’s Palace Theatre, the home of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical. Had that opportunity not been available this past year, “you could have seen me make this change just a little sooner,” stated Moran.
During last year’s upfront, Zarghami, then president of Nickelodeon Group, spoke of the year’s theme of “reinvention.” She didn’t realize at that time exactly how extensive that reinvention would be: three months later, Zarghami was out, exiting the company after three decades. In October, Nickelodeon tapped Robbins to restore her.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, which Zarghami stated was central to the company’s “reinvention” plans, is usually no longer, as it closed in September without recouping its $18 million cost.
And so it’s no surprise that Nickelodeon desired to turn the page for its first upfront under Robbins, who began his career as an actor before becoming a producer and director of several’90s Nickelodeon shows and later founding AwesomenessTV.
“We definitely desired that intimate setting where folks could easily get a real feeling of Brian Robbins’ vision and who he was as a person. We didn’t believe that could come across the same way in a huge theatrical effectiveness exactly where he just simply does an intro or an outro,” stated Moran.