What is TCA Press Tour? (Summer ’15 Edition)

TCA logo

Tonight marks the start of the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour. While some scheduling quirks this year are delaying my arrival until Sunday night, I’ll be covering it from afar this week (don’t worry; even though I’m missing the first week, I’ll still be there for almost two weeks). I put together a “What is TCA press tour?” primer before winter tour in January, but given that this will be my first TCA press tour as an Adweek employee, I wanted to update it for new followers to explain what press tour is, what I’ll be doing there for Adweek and why I—and almost everyone else who writes about TV—will be talking (and tweeting, using the #TCA15 hashtag) about it nonstop for the next three(!) weeks.

Twice a year, hundreds of TV critics and writers from all over the U.S. and Canada assemble at an L.A. hotel (the Beverly Hilton in summer; the Langham Huntington in winter) for press tour. Each day, a new network presents a variety of panels featuring talent and producers from their new (and sometimes returning) programs, as well as a panel with their top executives. There is also a “scrum” after each panel where smaller groups of reporters gather around certain panel members to ask additional questions, as well as one-on-one opportunities throughout the day and at receptions held during most evenings.

Between the news that breaks during the panels (and at least one panel per press tour goes completely off the rails; Girls, 2 Broke Girls, Stalker and Fresh Off the Boat are recent examples of this) and the interviews I land outside of the panels, each TCA press tour yields dozens of stories for me, both during the event itself and pieces I bank for the weeks and months to come. I’d estimate that my winter press tour reporting for Adweek generated at least 50 stories, including three cover stories, and influenced countless other pieces I’ve written since then, including Friday’s story about Showtime cancelling Happyish.

I first attended press tour, and became a TCA member, back when I was TV Editor at People. I covered the last few press tours for a variety of outlets—even though I covered winter tour primarily for Adweek as a freelancer, it also led to stories that ran in Quartz, The Daily Beast and Emmy Magazine—but now that I’m working for Adweek, I’ll be covering summer press tour for them exclusively.

It’s an exhausting, but essential, couple of weeks. Wish me luck!

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