The television industry has undergone enormous changes over the past several decades, but some conventions have endured.
One notable example is upfront season, the annual springtime ritual during which content suppliers introduce their programming slates to the advertising community.
Like television, the upfronts, which originated in the early 1960s, have evolved over time. Spurred by fragmentation in viewing habits, a desire for more accurate audience measurement, a commitment to both broad and targeted brand experiences and more, sales executives have innovated as well.
Fresh approaches in recent years have included double-digit reduction of advertising percentages at some networks and the increasing use of so-called addressable ads to serve relevant messaging to individual households.
With billions of dollars in play, the upfronts are an exciting, often nerve-wracking time, to say the least. But beyond their transactional component, they also provide an opportunity for networking, socializing and relationship building.
In a fast-paced world that seems to be getting faster all the time, it's nice to take a moment to appreciate interacting with peers.
Here at the Academy, springtime also marks the arrival of the Television Academy Honors, our annual celebration of programming that explores topics of social concern in a manner that enlightens, educates and promotes positive change.
This year's Television Academy Honors, to be held on May 30, will recognize seven exemplars of this mission:
• Alexa & Katie (Netflix), a poignant look at childhood cancer;
• I Am Evidence (HBO), about the alarming number of rape cases that go unsolved;
• A Million Little Things (ABC), a drama grappling with the impact on family and friends of a sudden and unexpected suicide;
• My Last Days (CW), an affirmation of life told from the perspective of people who are dying;
• Pose (FX), an ensemble featuring the largest cast of transgender performers in regular series roles and the largest recurring cast of LGBTQ performers ever in a scripted series;
• RBG (CNN), an account of the strides in women's rights and gender equality achieved through the work of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; and
• Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story (Paramount Network), a chronicle of the life and legacy of the Florida youth whose 2012 death stirred powerful discussion of race, politics, wealth, power and gun control.
In many respects, television today is unrecognizable from a half-century ago, when the upfronts began. But from shows such as The Defenders and East Side/West Side (to cite two early examples) to the works of Norman Lear, our industry is known for taking on social issues with candor and courage. This year's Television Academy Honors continues that legacy with powerful storytelling that represents our medium at its best.
Chairman and CEO, Television Academy