Pure-Play NBC Broadcasts From CES

In another sign of just how much content and distribution are melding at this week's annual Consumer Electronics Show, NBC Universal has an "official" role. The network will broadcast multiple shows live from the Las Vegas event. In addition, it will use the massive gathering to unveil an updated Web site for its nightly newscast.

NBCU, tabbed "the first-ever official broadcast partner," will have Brian Williams anchor tonight's "NBC Nightly News" from the convention floor--where NBC has a booth for the first time, and created "Broadcast Central." The flashy booth, where American Express has a sponsorship role, was designed by IPG's Jack Morton company, which specializes in trade-show exhibits.

Keeping with the boom in online video, the redesigned "Nightly News" site hosted at MSNBC.com will offer a "TV-like viewing experience," NBC said.

NBC's live broadcasts from the trade show began this morning with part of the "Today" show. CNBC shows "Power Lunch" and "Closing Bell" will be anchored from the NBC area this week. Other NBCU productions offering coverage from the Las Vegas floor include CNBC's "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch," "Access Hollywood" and the iVillage TV show on the NBC owned-and-operated stations.



NBCU has also created a dedicated NBCU-CES site, nbcuatces.com, for its bloggers to offer news and thoughts. (American Express has the banner ads.)

On the site, NBCU executives wrote that the company is exhibiting at the show because "the content that plays on all those cool screens and cutting-edge devices at CES has become just as important to CES as the devices themselves."

They said NBCU got the idea to become the "first pure content company" exhibitor from an Intel executive last year, when it was suggested that the show is as much about what flows through the new devices as the devices themselves--be it high-definition TVs or DVDs, handheld gadgets or gaming consoles.

NBCU hasn't always gotten along well with device manufacturers, having recently engaged in a high-profile battle with Apple over how much to charge for its content on iTunes. The result: NBCU removed shows like "The Office" from the service. Apple, however, doesn't participate in CES; it chose the Macworld event, which takes place next week.

The International Consumer Electronics Show, which runs through Thursday, witnessed the debut of the VCR in 1970, the Microsoft Xbox in 2001, and a device that can play both types of next-generation DVDs, HD-DVDs and Blu-ray in 2007.

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