It's a day in the park for NBC Uni at the upfronts


NBC may have done its upfront presentation six weeks before its rivals and canceled its annual shindig at Radio City Music Hall. But the company is planning to make a splash of its own with a multimedia "theme park" presentation on the Monday of upfront week.

"The NBC Universal Experience," as it's being called, will take the 4-7 p.m. slot on May 12 at Rockefeller Center. "It's going to be fun," said John Miller, president of the NBC Agency, which has planned all of NBC's upfront presentations since the mid-1980s.

NBC Uni is being stingy with details out of concern of taking the wraps off the still-developing plans, but the idea is to de-emphasize the struggling broadcast network and demonstrate to advertisers and Madison Avenue that the company is much more than just NBC.

NBC Uni also owns cable channels MSNBC, CNBC, USA, Sci-Fi, Bravo and Oxygen; Telemundo; Universal's TV and movie production studios; and resorts and theme parks in Hollywood, Florida and Japan. NBC Uni notes that its properties reach nine out of every 10 Americans every month.

"These upfronts have been so focused on the network programming that the rest of the company has been a two-minute add on at the end of the presentation," said Michael Bass, NBC Uni's new senior vp strategic initiatives who is developing the "experience." "What (NBC Uni chief) Jeff Zucker wanted to do was show off all the dynamic assets of our company."

While the network initially said it would have a companywide party for advertisers on May 12, the idea has grown. Bass said NBC Uni will use technology and live events so that the advertisers can learn what the company has to offer.

Each multimedia station will lead the attendees toward the final destination, the traditional party at the ice rink at Rockefeller Plaza.

NBC this month gave advertisers and the media a deep dive into its 65-week schedule during in a series of presentations in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. There might be a news conference on May 12, but insiders don't expect a lot of schedule or programming announcements.

"It's not a presentation in the normal sense of the word," Miller said. "It's sort of a theme park, and it's fun to spend four hours in a theme park sometimes. It will be, this time."