NBCU Looks to Bookend Broadcast’s Upfront Week

Company’s cable networks combine for single Thursday presentation
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NBCUniversal is concentrating its upfront firepower this year during the traditional broadcast upfront week in May.

Instead of having each of its cable networks hold separate events for media buyers in the month leading up to the upfront ad buying negotiations (which kept NBCU CEO Steve Burke and ad sales president Linda Yaccarino (pictured) busy during the spring), the Comcast-owned media company will present all of its broadcast and cable entertainment networks during what it has dubbed “Upfront Week with NBCU.”

The week will begin with NBC Entertainment’s presentation on the morning of May 12 at the Javits Center in New York, the same time NBC has held its presentation the past few years. On May 13, Telemundo Media will have its presentation at Fredrick P. Rose Hall in the Time Warner Center. On Thursday afternoon, when NBCU’s USA cable network had been holding a presentation, the company will instead present all of networks its cable entertainment group. Those networks include USA, Syfy, Bravo, E!, Oxygen, Esquire and Sprout.

NBCU’s Cable Entertainment Group is headed by Bonnie Hammer, who was in charge of USA when it first moved its upfront presentation to broadcast week two years ago.

The consolidated upfront approach reflect the portfolio sales approach being pushed by ad sales chief Yaccarino. Yaccarino last year grouped her sales team into four groups, one representing mass market entertainment networks, one representing lifestyle networks, one representing live programming like sports and news, and another representing the company’s digital assets.

“Showcasing our entire portfolio to our advertising partners all at once is in response to marketplace demand and a natural next step in the evolution of the NBCUniversal portfolio coming together as one,” Yaccarino said in a statement. “In a world of fragmentation, aggregation and scale means everything for our clients. Our wide-ranging portfolio of content and unequalled targeting capabilities enable us to creatively bring together advertising opportunities to meet our clients’ needs uniquely and better than any other media company.”

Of course, NBCU sales execs meet with media buyers and clients throughout the year. Some of those meeting lay the groundwork for integrated campaigns that require more planning that simply airing a schedule and 30-second spots.

Some NBCU cable networks will also be holding upfront presentations for the press.

During this year’s upfront, NBCU will be helped by having next February's Super Bowl -- TV’s most-watched event -- to sell.

This isn’t the first time NBCU has altered its approach to upfront presentations.

In 2008, NBC presented its fall schedule to advertisers in April, when it held relatively small “Infront” presentations with advertisers and media buyers. The idea was to give advertisers an early start at the kind of product integrations that were beginning to become popular as a way to combat commercial skipping.

That year during the May upfront week, NBC held an event called the NBC Experience at which all of NBCU’s properties were represented. That year’s ballyhooed reboot of Knight Rider was represented by Kit, the talking car. American Gladiators fought, Sunday Night Football announcers signed autographs and Bravo chefs served food.

NBC abandoned its Infronts in 2010.

NBCU says its television networks reach one in three adults daily and its digital properties reach 125 million unique users each month.

In last year’s upfront NBC sold $2.1 billion worth of advertising commitments. NBC’s primetime upfront revenue was up 13%. NBCU’s cable network rang up price increases in the 7% to 8% range on a cost-per-thousand-viewers (CPM) basis.

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