NBCUniversal Cutting Ad Loads and Adding Content as Consumers Quarantine

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On news broadcasts and cable news channels, the company will reduce commercial loads to allow for more programming. On the entertainment front, late night shows, as well as unscripted series on Bravo, E! and USA, will all feature extended episodes and bonus content in lieu of some commercial pods.

NBCUniversal will reduce advertising loads across its networks and add more entertainment and news content as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues, and as families quarantine at home.

“Now, people all across America are turning to us more for the content that comforts them and connects them to the outside world,” NBCUniversal ad sales and partnerships chairman Linda Yaccarino wrote Monday in a blog post. “At the same time, some marketers across every industry have asked to pause their advertising plans or shift their messages, and they're looking for ideas, tools, and strategies from their most trusted partners. So, in light of everything we're seeing and hearing, we want to do what's right for our audiences and marketers.”

On the broadcast news shows and the company's cable news channels MSNBC and CNBC, the company will reduce commercial loads to allow for more news and information programming.

On the entertainment front, late night shows The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night With Seth Meyers and Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen (now originating from the hosts' homes), as well as unscripted series on Bravo, E! and USA, will all feature extended episodes and bonus content in lieu of some commercial pods.

Some of the company’s channels will also launch family movie nights, with sponsored (but commercial-free) airings of films.

Late last month, the advertising research firm Magna Global predicted that the U.S. TV ad market would fall by 13 percent in 2020 due to the fallout from the pandemic, calling the situation “totally unprecedented.” The travel, restaurant and movie sectors in particular have pulled back ad spend.

In addition, NBCUniversal finds itself in the position of having to fill many hours of programming that had been set aside for coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which have since been postponed until 2021.

Yaccarino also wrote that the company will be engaging in outreach to companies and waiving fees “to allow companies to reach their customers directly in their homes and generate much-needed sales.” That will include access to remote production teams, brand assets, talent, translation services and editing services, which can all be used to create new campaigns even as most people are staying home.

The company on Monday also released new research outlining the increased media consumption during the last few weeks. The research found that digital and linear TV viewing is up, gaming is up significantly and that streaming services are seeing subscription gains, while multichannel video providers are facing pressure.