NBCU Upfront Brand-Speak: More Peacock And ... 'What Even Is Prime Time?'

With the disruptions of the writers' and actors' strikes behind it, NBCUniversal's live upfront presentation was back again for its usual mid-May morning time slot, working up a lot of regular glam-infused programming presentations and celebrities.

But where was the NBC TV network’s name in all this?

It was there -- but much less of a presence, continuing a trend started some years ago.

And now there is more, with "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon to be found singing onstage in the presentation's initial moments with the opener "What even is prime time?"

One of the biggest efforts was for Universal Pictures’  major upcoming theatrical movie release “Wicked”, starring Ariana Grande. A



All that is a bit unusual for an event where the audience is largely media agency and advertising executives focused on TV and streaming.

The effort was not intended to pitch advertising time, of course, but to highlight NBCU’s overall creative ability for storytelling.

The first half of the presentation focused heavily on a slew of scripted TV shows -- limited series, and otherwise  -- that would play on Peacock. This included “The Day Of the Jackal” Eddie Redmayne. 

That’s not all. It talked up "new exclusives" on Peacock when it came to sports.

Last year, Peacock made some history with the first streaming NFL playoff exclusive -- a wild-card game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins.  

NBCU spent a significant amount of time touting all those unscripted TV shows -- many on its cable TV networks -- but also with its "The Traitors," in its second season streaming on Peacock.

And yes, there were NBC prime-time TV network shows to highlight -- although previously announced -- for the fall 2024 schedule: Medical drama "Brilliant Minds" starring Zachary Quinto, medical comedy "St. Denis Medical" and sitcom "Happy’s Place" starring Reba McEntire.

Other presentations focused on other part of NBCU linear TV platforms including NBC News, "Late Night with Seth Meyers" and of course, the Paris Olympics.

Meyers roasted NBCU comedically -- with some of the usual upfront content for network late-night hosts -- with lines like: "There are amazing things on Peacock. Peacock continues to prove that the easiest way to make a billion dollars is to spend eight."

Later on -- just before the NBCU event closed, before Kelly Clarkson came out to sing  a bit -- Mark Marshall, chairman of global advertising for NBCUniversal, brought everything back to earth with TV ad-business nuts and bolts.

This included, an example where live, linear TV shows, such as  “The Voice” -- still a big prime-time show for NBCU -- offered soaring 39% engagement to a Toyota ad for those “in-market” consumers looking to buy  cars.

And getting down to even more basics of what brands came to hear, Marshall also noted improving NBCU premium content and data, on all its platforms NBC TV networks and Peacock, as well as "daily unmatched reach like ours."

He says new AI audience capability will be even stronger “by tapping into audience segments around human connections that can be tailored to your brands KPIs [key performance indicators]”.

Starting with some splash and ending with ad basics and Clarkson singing us off the stage.

We are back to some degree of TV upfront normalcy.

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