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In the North American television industry, an upfront is a group of gatherings hosted at the start of important advertising sales periods by television network executives, attended by the press and major advertisers. It is so named because of its main purpose, to allow marketers to buy television commercial airtime "up front", or several months before the television season begins.
In the United States, the major broadcast networks' upfronts occur in New York City during the third week of May, the last full week of that month's sweeps period. The networks announce their fall primetime schedules, including tentative launch dates (i.e., fall or midseason) for new television programming, which may be "picked up" the week before. The programming announcements themselves are usually augmented with clips from the new television series, extravagant musical numbers, comedic scenes, and appearances by network stars, and take place at grand venues such as Lincoln Center, Radio City Music Hall, or Carnegie Hall. It is also the time when it is announced (by virtue of not being on the fall schedule) which shows are canceled for the next season. In recent years, the networks have mostly revealed this information to the public a few days before the actual presentation. Most cable networks present earlier in the spring since they usually program for the summer months; press attention to these announcements is usually much lighter.
Historically, the fall television schedule was created to help auto advertisers promote their new car models.
Upfronts in Canada are similar but occur in either the last week of May or the first week of June, after networks have had a chance to buy Canadian rights to new American series. Both broadcast and non-broadcast channels make presentations, with a single event per ownership group.
Upfronts in Australia are a relatively new concept to the industry, and are not always a lavish affair. Unlike American upfronts, a detailed schedule is not typically released. Announcements regarding new programs, axing confirmations and casting news are revealed to advertisers and the media. All three commercial networks (Seven, Nine and Ten) as well as both public broadcasters (ABC and SBS) hold upfront events for their suite of channels. The dominant subscription platform Foxtel showcase programming airing across all their cable channels, rather than each cable network holding separate events. Upfronts are typically held between October and December before the start of the Southern Hemisphere's summer and the holidays, highlighting programming for the next calendar year.
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