How NBC-5 put Broadcast TV in the Driver’s Seat at the Upfront

Last week, I had the privilege of attending NBC-5 Chicago’s Broadcast TV Upfront at the Loews Hotel across from NBC Tower. Normally, NBC-5 Chicago would host the local upfront with the network’s main unveiling of their programming lineup for the 2019-20 season. This usually takes place the second week in May. However, this year NBC-5 broke off from the big peacock in the sky. In years past,  NBC-5 would simulcast New York’s presentation in real time to the Chicago audience consisting of mainly Broadcast TV media planners and buyers.  These presentations would be an entertaining and informative 60 to 90 minute presentation showcasing the network’s new Fall lineup for the 2019-20 broadcast television season. The networks recap their successes and speak glowingly about their new programming which they hope will turn into must see TV.

Streaming is the new toy

However, due to the networks wanting to stay ahead of the curve in the OTT/Connected TV streaming space, more and more time is devoted to their streaming platforms. Therefore, the main network presentations can sometimes now take well over 2 – 2.5 hours to get through. Additionally, the main focus in year’s past – the new Network Lineup – has become diluted due to all the new technology and media that each network has now dipped their toe in. Therefore, for the first time in recent memory, both ABC-7 Chicago and NBC-5 Chicago cancelled their annual network upfronts and both chose to do a local only upfront.

Presentation is nice but on a smaller scale

NBC-5’s presentation was held in one of the conference rooms of the Loews Hotel. As soon as we stepped through the revolving door, we were guided to a reception area where drinks were served. We made sure to grab a drink before finding our seat in the smaller than usual conference room.

Broadcast TV back in the drivers seat

The presentation combined NBC and Telemundo Chicago, making it a diverse experience for the audience. NBC 5 news anchors, Rob Stafford and Marion Brooks,  opened up the presentation alongside Telemundo Chicago’s on-air team. After some jokes were made and some Spanish was spoken, NBC revealed their Prime time Lineup and their new shows. Here are some of the highlights:

New Drama Series


After barely speaking to her father for years, Sydney is suddenly thrust back into the family fold when her philanthropist mother passes away unexpectedly. Hoping to reconnect with the daughter he loves, Elijah asks Sydney to rejoin his firm. She agrees because despite everything, she knows that working alongside her father is her best hope at changing the world … if they can ever get along.


When Scott, a father of four, has an unexpected health scare, he calls on a few of his closest allies to step in as back-up dads for every stage of his growing family’s life. These men agree to devote themselves to supporting and guiding Scott’s family through just in case he ever can’t be there to do so himself.


New Comedy Shows


Young parents Dave and Rebecca are joined by Dave’s parents show up unannounced and broke. But these boomerang parents aren’t great with boundaries and the question of who’s parenting who quickly becomes blurred.


In this family comedy, Kenan Thompson strives to be a super dad to his two daughters while balancing his job and a father-in-law.

Focus on Broadcast TV

This Upfront was short and quick only focusing on their 2019-2020 programming and not their digital capabilities. I enjoyed taking a break from all the analytics that come from digital presentations.