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Netflix canceled its in-person upfront, probably to avoid the WGA’s picket lines

Netflix canceled its in-person upfront, probably to avoid the WGA’s picket lines


After being tipped off by the NYPD about strikers planning to demonstrate at its upcoming upfront presentation, Netflix has shifted to a virtual-only event.

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Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

Just a few months ago, Netflix was proud to announce that it was putting on its first-ever in-person upfront week presentation in New York City alongside other networks and streamers vying for advertiser cash, like NBCUniversal, Fox, Disney, and Warner Bros. Discovery. But after being tipped off by the NYPD about striking WGA writers planning to protest outside of the event, Netflix has suddenly decided to shift to an all-virtual presentation with no celebrities in attendance.

AdWeek reports that Netflix’s move to cancel its in-person upfront at New York City’s Paris Theater in favor of a new “produced to stream” presentation came after the streamer was made aware of the plans of local WGA members to demonstrate — plans that the WGA itself had shared with the NYPD. In addition to no longer taking place at the Paris Theater, the streamed event will not be attended by any talent working on Netflix’s shows, and it will not be followed by a reception afterward — both of which suggest that said talent did not want to get caught up in the optics of participating in a night of schmoozing with entertainment executives in the midst of a labor strike.

In a statement about the upfront demonstration, the WGA reiterated that its members are on strike and will remain so until the studios are ready to meet them where they are.

“We planned a legal, peaceful picket of Netflix’ Upfronts at the Paris Theater in New York City, where the streaming giant aims to sell advertisers using the content writers create, while at the same time refusing to negotiate a fair contract with those writers,” the WGA said. “Last week more than 1,000 WGA members, plus members of SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, and the Teamsters picketed outside Netflix’s office in New York. The Union will continue to picket Netflix and other Studios until the Companies are ready to negotiate a fair deal that addresses writers’ legitimate concerns.”

Disclosure: The Verge’s editorial staff is also unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East.