NBCU's Digital 'Million Second' Bet on Digital

 For a company that is having a hard time attracting many viewers to its first screen, it looks like NBCUniversal is pushing to take a lead role in digital. Its digital upfront presentation Wednesday night in New York probably did a good job convincing advertisers and buyers that its playing for real in the digital space.  

 Lauren Zalaznick, EVP NBCUniversal for the newly formed Media Innovation & Cross Company Initiatives Group, told the crowd that she was looking at NBCU’s digital properties with fresh eyes. “Well,” she added, tapping at her spectacles, “Eyes that need glasses, but they’re very fresh.”

 And certainly, her eyes are focused on the brand. You get the feeling a Zalaznick memo went out to every NBCU property informing them they better have a new Web series/social media enticement/app/ all of the above—or else. The digital fast-forward ranges from owned stations to Style and Golf, E!, CNBC, USA, Fandango and more. Good show. They’re all in, or seemed to be.



 The centerpiece probably is“The Million Second Quiz,” NBC’s groundbreaking, live competition for which the network will build an hourglass-shaped building in Manhattan that will actually house the finalists for a show in which contestants will be playing for up to $10 million.  

 Contestants will first compete online before they’re eliminated down to a handful who will end up playing in the final rounds on primetime.  Look. Bottom line, it’s a game show, but apparently one that will require serious contestants and the public at large to interact with an online component, which is the real hook for NBCU.

Hoping viewers hook into the second screen is one thing; “Million Second Quiz” will seem to pretty much require it.  If it works-- however it works--Zalaznick and Linda Yaccarino, President of Advertising Sales, will have done a great job meshing those screens into one great big advertising event. From the standpoint of really making the “Quiz” truly groundbreaking, it would have been radical had NBCU had the big, final championship event happen online rather than on broadcast television.  There’s always next year.

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