NBC's Upfront Strategy

NBC Universal Television Group CEO's Jeff Zucker isn't going to chase press releases--which is a hard habit in the TV business to kick.

But in the new world of digital TV, that is probably a good approach. It sends out a rare message for TV executives: less is more on NBC. (Though one might want to re-consider the return of those NBC 'Supersize' 40-minute sitcom episodes that Zucker instituted as the head of NBC's prime-time programming).

Zucker's message shouldn't be confused with one curtailing growth. Of course, any network in last place might only have the longer outlook to consider.

One point for NBC to consider is that, when it was the No. 1 broadcast network in prime time, it took a long time to buy a film studio--Universal Studios. That's something NBC should have done when it came to the Internet--a point Zucker addresses. "If we'd had the guts to see it through, who knows where we'd be now," he told advertising executives at TV Week's upfront event yesterday, discussing NBC's failed Internet efforts, NBCi and Snap "We are at a different place now. The hardware and the software [are] finally ready."



These days media networks will seemingly try anything to chase down their customers--knocking down all sorts of business furniture in the process. Existing partners such as TV stations have all they can do but hold their breath.

Zucker, like other big media leaders, wants to be everywhere--360 degrees--but not necessarily by the end of the week, and not necessarily by rocking the crystal in the china shop.

"Downloading with ads, that's not something we are prepared to do or are comfortable doing at this time," he said. "We believe the affiliates are our partners."

That's respectful. Hopefully, NBC can keep true to this vision. Deal or no deal.

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