It was all about #HowToHaveFun at the ABC Network’s 2015 Upfront event last night at the world renowned Avery Fisher Hall.
Last night I attended the ABC Upfronts which was an opportunity I received (with my Oscars partner in crime Tori) because my brand, Coldwell Banker, is an advertiser on their network. In past years I have read through tweets about the event so I was excited to attend this year for the first time.
After an hour of meet and greets with the stars of some of their top shows like Scandal, Modern Family, Black-Ish, The Goldbergs, and even Good Morning America, we were swept into the theater for a two hour session packed with advertising opportunities, info about new shows, entertainment by Jimmy Kimmel and even a Montel Jordan performance to the song “This Is How We Do It.” Did I say it was a jammed packed two hours?
Here are three of my favorite takeaways from my experience…
1) Social Media has Forever Changed How We Watch TV
Watching TV with a “second screen” like an iPad or phone has become the new normal and this was totally affirmed as ABC programs garnered over 32 million tweets in 2014, according to Paul Lee. This number propelled them into the top spot for social engagement in their industry. I guess you could say TV watching has become communal. We love to live tweet our obsession (or hate) for characters, share our surprise when a key character gets killed off a show (RIP McDreamy) and connect with fans in a way that we had only been able to do around the watercooler at work in years past.
As the Senior Manager of Media Engagement for Coldwell Banker I couldn’t be more pleased to see social solidifying it’s spot in our new way of watching TV. My heart skipped a happy beat last night every time I heard an ABC exec beat their chest about how their social engagement is a crucial statistic that they are watching as an indicator for how successful a show is.
As an advertiser on ABC programming, I know my brand is spending their ad dollars in a place where our ads will not only be seen but will also be talked about on social media. This was more than evident when we “won” during during the Academy Awards. Now of course you have to have the right creative to GET people talking but if their thumbs are already happily tweeting away during their favorite shows, chances are the right commercial can keep those thumbs moving!
2) There was a Refreshing Focus on Diversity
63% of TV show characters are Caucasian. Flip through the channels on your TV and with just a few clicks the lack of diversity on mainstream shows will be evident. According to CCTV, minorities make up nearly 40% of the population in the US and in just a few decades, they’ll become the majority. So why isn’t this carrying over into casting in Hollywood, NYC, etc.?
Last night I was so pleased to see diversity at the core of ABC’s event. It was referenced at almost every important moment of the show from executives glowing about their diverse cast members and their ground breaking Bruce Jenner interview to a more numerous approach to the topic from Jimmy Kimmel throwing out the line, “We’re doing very well now that we started acknowledging that minorities exist… except The Bachelor, we’re going to keep that one white.”
And while they already have shows like Black-ish and Fresh of the Boat, it is clear that they are laser focused on continuing to not only have diverse cast members but to put minority actors in the main spotlight. Some examples of this include Ken Jeong’s leading role in Dr. Ken, Mike Epps leading role in Uncle Buck, Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra starring in Quantico and Noah Galvin who comes out of the closet to his family in The Real O’neals.
I hope this trend of ensuring programming is diverse soon becomes something executives don’t have to brag about but rather becomes the norm. Either way, my hat is off to ABC for heading in the right direction.
3) Hot New Shows To Keep Your Eyes On
ABC unveiled their fall programming schedule with is a nice little combo of old and new. And while I wasn’t exactly sure how to feel about the return of the Muppets to prime time TV I was excited about the following three additions to their packed line up.
Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll and MURDER.
Paul Lee who is the President of ABC Entertainment unveiled Wicked City which he noted was highest testing pilot of the year with millennials. After seeing the dark and twisted trailer I was both disturbed intrigued by the storyline in which a serial killer dedicates a song on the radio to his victim before each crime. (Pfft what a psycho) Take a look:
A politician’s son disappears, is presumed dead and the reappears 10 years later. But is the reappearance a true miracle or a political play? This twisted plot looks like it will get real interesting real fast. Check it out:
Not only is Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra downright gorgeous but she always happens to be one bad ass chick…or at least plays one on TV. She stars as an FBI agent who is being sent through the ringer at tough as nails boot camp with a class of other agents who all have dark pasts. Things escalate quickly for her when she is accused of being the terrorist behind one of the worst attacks on the city since 9/11. Check it out:
All in all the event was a fun and insightful experience and it seems like ABC is heading in a great direction from a programming and advertising opportunity standpoint. But according to Kimmel that’s what NBC said the night prior with his line…
NBC and ABC both claim to be #1 which mean one of the networks is lying to you. I’m here to tell you it is us.
What a funny guy that Kimmel is.