NBCU Says Upfront Volume Up 10% to $7B

Digital volume tops $1B
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NBCUniversal said it completed its upfront with record volume.

NBCU CEO Steve Burke said volume on all of the company’s platforms grew 10% to $7 billion.

NBCU sold the Olympics for the first time during the upfront. Without the Tokyo 2020 gains, upfront volume was up 3%

Prices were up 9% on a cost-per-thousand viewers basis.

Prices for commercials in NBC primetime shows like This is Us were up 14%. Cable network saw double-digit pricing growth

Volume for Sunday Night Football was up 8% and MSNBC racked up a 6% gain.

'This Is Us' (NBC)

'This is Us'

Ahead of the launch next April of NBCU’s streaming service, upfront volume on NBCU’s digital platforms was up 50%.

Speaking on parent company Comcast’s earnings call Thursday, Burke said NBCU was the leader in the TV ad market as the first to get deals done, selling the most volume and getting strong pricing.

“This year was particularly robust,” Burke said. He noted that the biggest advertiser category during the upfront was digital-native companies ranging from the FAANG companies, including Apple and Google, to smaller direct-to-consumer marketers like Peloton.

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Steve Burke

He noted that there was a certain irony in the fact that internet companies are disrupting TV’s traditional viewing patterns while at the same time spending more than $1 billion to advertise on TV.

“Many of those companies didn’t advertise a year ago,” he said, noting that by using the data their businesses generate, those online companies can gauge how effective TV advertising is and are increasing their investment in the medium.

In the upfront, NBCU offered new products including its ShoppableTV and AdSmart targeting. Digital companies were the biggest buyer of AdSmart. 60-second primepads were renewed and moved into additional dayparts.

"The popularity and scale of this premium content, and advertisers’ need for trusted, brand‐safe environments drove NBCUniversal’s upfront to record levels this year, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said on the call.

"Advertising is a core strength and once again we led the market on both volume and price. The overall portfolio volume was close to $7 billion, an increase of 10% over last year ‐ and average price was similarly‐strong," Roberts said. "We helped shift the marketplace to embrace “all Video” unifying all screens, platforms and content – breaking down the historic barriers between linear and digital – which is particularly important as we prepare to launch our ad‐supported streaming service next year. To that end, we had record digital video sales, an increase of 50% over the prior year."

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