Hey Chicago. It’s time to be “Upfront.”

Let’s be Upfront. Upfront is boasted as the most fashionable event in the media world, and appropriately so. Television networks exhibit their latest work and what they’ll be bringing to the table for the Fall primetime season. So, industry professionals attend events in New York with screenings in Los Angeles and Chicago. All take place in metropolitan spaces paired with food, drinks, and good company. This past week, the Marketing Keys team attended the ABC and CBS presentations for exciting schedule announcements and special guest appearances.

ABC plans to stay on top

Entering ABC’s Upfront screening, we see a swarm of well-dressed media liaisons eagerly gathering into a room with snacks and beverages. The event takes place at the AMC River East 21 Theaters in Streeterville.  As we take our seats, ABC Chicago executives speak into a mic. Consequently, speakers exclaim their pride for the network and all its of their programming. Nightly ABC-7 news anchors, Alan Krashesky and Kathy Brock, are introduced to speak on the importance of their job. “We’re here to elevate people who are doing something positive in our community…” states Brock, followed by warm applause from the audience.

Screenings begins shortly after where the crowd watches Rita Ferro, Tom Ascheim, and other ABC and Freeform executives take the stage. ABC representatives continue to address the extreme success of their network. They speak on the return of Roseanne, a show that had one in ten Americans watching the premiere. A whopping 18.2 million viewers watched the premiere of Roseanne.  In addition, ABC President, Channing Dungey, announces that five of the top ten shows on network television are on their channel. It is no secret that ABC has experienced extreme success since their merger with Disney, therefore, they have no plans on stopping. The highlight every year at the Upfront is an appearance by Jimmy Kimmel. Only Jimmy can get away with criticizing and poking fun at ABC’s programming decisions. As always, the crowd cannot stop laughing at his 10 minute stand-up comedy act poking fun at his employer.

CBS keeps their brand strong

Later we attended CBS network’s Upfront event at the historical Harold Washington Library. CBS did an excellent job highlighting their cast members as they announced all the shows on their fall schedule. To strengthen ratings, heavy hitters like Cedric the Entertainer and Kevin Hart are paired with returning CBS actor, Nathan Fillian. CBS is maintaining a recognizable brand bringing back classic shows like Magnum P.I. and Murphy Brown. It feels like a trip back to the 1980s at the network, which will feature five reboots next season. As one reporter had mentioned, “Everything past is present.” CBS’ biggest declines this past season were on Monday. Not surprisingly, that is where the biggest changes are this season. They are shrinking the comedy block from 2 hours to one hour on Monday nights while bringing back Magnum P.I. After the 90 minute presentation, it was time for some sushi, sliders, other gourmet appetizers, wine, cocktails etc. in the most beautiful setting – the Atrium on the top floor of the Harold Washington Library. We must have gotten on and then gotten off about a dozen different escalators in every part of the library to get there. The commute was well worth it as the food and drink was fantastic.

Bernie Levi, the author, is the Project Coordinator of Marketing Keys. She can’t wait until the 2019 Upfront season starts up again.