NBC Spins A Different Upfront -- But Is It Really Business As Usual?

For the better part of a year and a half, NBC has shrugged off the value of the typical upfront week for advertisers, saying business needs to be done differently. But are there real changes here or not?  

NBC abandoned its usual Monday upfront presentation date (leaving it to Fox) in favor of earlier and smaller May and April meetings with advertisers, ideally more focused on business.

But, just when we think NBC is all serious business, it shifts gears and give us what, in theory, it also does well -- some entertainment during the traditional upfront week.

NBC will have a "Comedy Showcase" at Town Hall in New York City, featuring late-night talk show comedy guys -- Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and Jimmy Fallon -- plus maybe Tina Fey and Steve Carrell thrown in for good measure. Leno, in true NBC marketing synergistic form, will make his appearance at exactly 10 p.m. onstage -- the start time of his new prime-time Monday to Friday show.

If nothing else, it seems the network has learned to segment the whole upfront advertising process -- serious business on one hand, pure entertainment on the other.

But there is also some opportunity here. Someone in NBC's advertising department must have pointed out the obvious:  "Hey, our big advertising clients and their media buyers are still milling about during upfront week. Shouldn't we try to get their attention?'

NBC strategists have been influenced by the right kind of thinking: that gaudy upfront broadcast network presentations are too costly and provide too little information. At the same time, media executives say they'd rather have smaller, shorter, and, in theory, more efficient meetings.

The current upfront presentation template, still used by most broadcast and a growing number of cable networks, is an uneasy fusion of cold-hard media business information with some cursory entertainment -- all in a two-to-three-hour upfront event.

Give NBC some credit here. At least media buyers now have a choice -- even if it's just packaged differently. And, they can cut actual business entertainment waste if they need to



2 comments about "NBC Spins A Different Upfront -- But Is It Really Business As Usual?".
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  1. Bryan Cox from Cox Marketing, April 13, 2009 at 11:35 a.m.

    Here's a thought for the TV networks...What’s going on with a days it seems that the networks will use any excuse stick on a rerun, Christmas, Easter, My mother is in the Bathroom...whatever. They think the viewers are doing something else and won’t watch the shows. Advertising revenue is down on all networks. One of the many reasons is, from an advertisers stand point, they don’t want to advertise on a rerun show that no one will watch. Reality Check...make more NEW episodes. How to fix the problem,

    1. The regular working TV season is 13 weeks...expand that to 25 weeks of new episodes. The whole industry works more. More people tivo and watch because of new episodes. More viewers=more advertising!
    You can read more ...

  2. Carl LaFong, April 13, 2009 at 2:22 p.m.

    I don't think that NBC has thought this thing through. Most senior executives in the buying community don't stay at the upfronts much past 8pm, which is about when NBC is starting theirs. The younger buyers don't really care about Jay Leno, so it aint likely they're gonna stick around until 10pm to see him.

    So who's gonna be around to watch Jay perform? A bunch of NBC suits and pages?

    Note to NBC: Check with the folks at MTV, who are known for papering the house with audiences-for-hire at their corporate presentations.

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