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When NBCUniversal unveiled Peacock in Jan. 2020, it had a key differentiator that separated it from competitors like Netflix HBO Max, and Disney+: It would be proudly advertising-supported.
Three years later and advertising is the new norm, with HBO Max (soon to be Max), Disney+and Netflix all in the game.
“We were a bit of an island at that time, a lot of people were saying they wanted to be subscription only, they didn’t want to have advertising… and some were very vocal about not ever wanting to have advertising,” says Mark Marshall, NBCUniversal’s president of advertising and partnerships. We determined that we wanted to be the the ultimate place for streamers, for consumers as well as advertisers.”
Now Peacock is practically a mature business (if not quite as scaled as some of its streaming competitors), and the company is using it, in conjunction with its linear TV assets and digital platforms, as a piece of a larger puzzle.
“All of these distribution agreements that we did have played with this idea that we wanted to control our own ad sales, of our own product,” Marshall says. “It is a little scary when you look at it and think about fragmentation, but I think the positive for a marketer is if you look at NBC, and then you look at Peacock, together they reach 159 million people. There’s only 10% duplication across that 159 million people. It’s finding new audiences in different places, this has really been the holy grail for marketers for years.”
It is that new dynamic that led to NBCUniversal shaking up its ad sales structure earlier this year in a streaming-centric push, Marshall says internally they are calling the new approach “fewer, bigger, best.”
“Fewer touch points for our clients. That’s why we reorganized in the fall and beginning of the year, which is allowing us to do more bigger, all encompassing partnerships. And the goal is to deliver the best results and impact for our clients,” Marshall adds.
He gives the example of Saturday Night Live, which dominates its unusual linear TV timeslot.
“It’s also one of the top shows on YouTube, and it’s a huge show on on Twitter as well. In theory that could have been three different salespeople a year ago,” Marshall says.
As for this year’s upfront,Marshall says he is optimistic about where things are going.
“We actually are pacing exactly where we thought we would be,” he says. “And we also are anticipating the second half of the year to ramp up on that side [Marshall spoke to THR before the writers strike threw a wrench in things].”
“We are going to have demand that we haven’t seen in a couple of years really in a consolidated period, but I think that will spur the economy in the second half as we come forward,” Marshall says of his hope for the second half of the year.
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