NBCUniversal to Combine Broadcast and Cable in Dramatic TV Upfronts Shakeup (Exclusive)

NBC Ads - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of NBCUniversal

NBC Ads - Publicity - H 2016

The conglom hopes ad buyers will spark to a one-stop-shop approach to reaching viewers.

This story first appeared in the April 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

When several hundred media buyers file into Radio City Music Hall on May 16 for the first presentation of TV's annual upfront week, they'll hear about more than just top-rated NBC.

In an unprecedented move, parent company NBCUniversal is combining its NBC presentation with those of Telemundo and the entire NBCU cable entertainment group. "It's the latest demonstration of a very specific strategy to bring this gigantic media company together all in one place," says NBCU chairman of ad sales and client partnerships Linda Yaccarino, who rolled up nets including Syfy, USA and Bravo into a single cable presentation in 2014. "In this world of fragmentation, the aggregation of audience is so critical."

According to Yaccarino and executive creative director John Shea, NBCU is better positioned than its rivals for such a move given its breadth. Which is not to say, in success, Disney's ESPN and Freeform won't one day join ABC at Lincoln Center, or FX and Nat Geo won't be pitched with Fox at the Beacon. But with English- and Spanish-language nets as well as cable news, entertainment and sports, NBCU can boast a collection of channels that reaches 93 percent of U.S. viewers each month. In 2015, it was enough to secure nearly $6 billion in revenue commitments across the portfolio. That message of scale will be hammered home not only from the upfront stage during a two-hour dog-and-pony show but also in an ad campaign set to roll out in early April. Print ads and billboards will follow closer to the May event.

The extensive campaign, shot over multiple days this spring, incorporates about 60 familiar NBCU faces, including Shades of Blue star Jennifer Lopez, Mr. Robot's Rami Malek and Christian Slater and NBC Sports personality Bob Costas. In tailored snippets produced by NBCU's internal Content Innovation Agency, the talent utters variations on the com­pany's 2016 upfront tagline, "Reach redefined."

Yaccarino is confident that the ad community will support the move — if for no other reason than it will save buyers a late-in-the-week trip to the Javits Center, where the NBCU cable event had been held in recent years. "[Buyers] shouldn't have to navigate the craziness of New York City and jump from event to event when they're trying to accomplish a singular need from a client," she says. "It's not like you go to one restaurant to get your appetizer and then other ones to get your dinner and your dessert."