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Media companies begin canceling annual ad presentations as coronavirus spreads in New York

(L-R) Julia Chan, Jonny Beauchamp, Lucy Hale, and Ashleigh Murray of “Katy Keene” speak onstage during the The CW Network 2019 Upfronts at New York City Center on May 16, 2019 in New York City.

Kevin Mazur | Entertainment  Getty Images

AMC Networks is the latest media company to change its plans for its spring upfront event as companies opt to postpone, move events online or cancel altogether amid growing concerns around the spread of coronavirus. 

Media companies host upfront presentations each spring to discuss programming and ad offerings to advertisers, often hosting flashy, star-studded events and after parties. Tech companies like Twitter and YouTube have similar presentations called NewFronts. But as the virus spreads in New York City and throughout the United States, the upfronts could be a very different affair this year. 

AMC Networks said in a statement Monday it canceled its upfront presentation scheduled for March 18 in favor of individual conversations with its advertising clients. 

Earlier on Monday, A+E said it would be hosting its first “virtual upfront,” after initially saying it would host a live event on March 25. 

“The health, safety and well-being of our clients, colleagues and our industry is our top priority,”  A+E Networks’ Group President Paul Buccieri said in a statment. “A+E Networks is leaning-in to our culture of flexibility – one of the business mandates to operate in today’s world, and certainly a necessity underscored in our current environment.”

Last week, Fox News said it was canceling its upfront, originally scheduled for March 24, Ad Age reported. CNN’s event went on as planned last week. 

FreeWheel’s event was scheduled to take place Thursday, but the company told CNBC it was postponing the event “as the safety and health of our employees, clients, partners and press attending is of utmost importance.”  

Other media companies were still weighing their later presentations or planning to proceed as planned, but those don’t occur until April and May.