Updated on Thursday, July 21 at 4:45 p.m. ET: Hours after losing nine more on-site dates, the TCA Board has canceled the in-person aspect of its 2022 Summer Press Tour.
“After additional networks decided to switch to virtual-only press conferences, and a conversation with the hotel, The TCA Board was forced to cancel the in-person press tour,” the new email from the board (the bolding is theirs) reads. “We are in discussions with networks to plan a virtual schedule, and will share this information as soon as we have it. Those virtual days may or may not be in the same timeframe as the current schedule.”
Previously: What we didn’t do this summer: The Television Critics Association’s (TCA) Summer Press Tour just lost nine more in-person dates, including five Disney days, one from Fox, another for CBS/Paramount+, and a pair for PBS.
The TCA Board shared the “extremely disappointing news” with its members via email on Thursday. Each of the platforms that have pulled out, which for Disney includes ABC, FX, Hulu, Nat Geo, and the Onyx Collective, will shift to virtual presentations.
“Despite networks’ enthusiasm and agreement to schedule a robust in-person press tour, growing concerns over the BA.5 COVID variant and Los Angeles County’s impending indoor mask mandate combined to make scheduling days challenging, if not impossible,” the email reads. “Shows in production cannot or do not want to break COVID bubbles; producers, writers, talent, and publicists are not willing to appear in person.”
Previously, Showtime, The CW, and Warner Bros. Discovery all bailed on the Summer 2022 tour. Those decisions weren’t really due to Covid, however — read each of their specific reasons for skating here.
This summer’s doomed tour was set to start July 27 at the Langham Huntington hotel in Pasadena, California. The overall in-person event has not yet been completely canceled — yet — but that feels like just a matter of time. The last three TCAs were virtual and, with their technical difficulties and human disconnection, generally terrible. So we’ve got that to look forward to again.
The biannual TCA press tours began decades ago as a central hub where critics from newspapers around the country could screen shows ahead of time and interview the creators, actors, and executives for stories that would run throughout the TV season. Today they span about two-and-a-half weeks; they used to be even longer. Each network sponsors its own day, with some opting to split one — and the expenses.
Two people with knowledge of TCA costs told IndieWire that between flying in talent with the attendant hotel rooms, cars, hair, and makeup; catering; potentially throwing a party; and shutting down productions for a few days (but still paying unions), a day at TCA conservatively costs a network $500,000. It could be much more. Throw in the risk of talent contracting Covid and possibly having to shutter productions and the calculus for cancellation gets even easier.
The TCA currently has about 250 members; networks may also invite press who are not TCA members to either an in-person or virtual day. This summer, the TCA board asked participating networks to limit their non-TCA invitations due to Covid. Might not be an issue now.