UPFRONTS, FIRST DAY: NBCUniversal opened the initial first in-person week in two years Monday morning at Radio City Music Hall with a lengthy presentation that touted the company’s DNA as an ad-supported content company. The message was intended to reassure media buyers gathered at Radio City – or to watch virtually – that NBCUniversal and its ad-supported streaming service Peacock are designed to avoid the growth and revenue issues currently plaguing the streaming giant. Netflix streaming. The schadenfreude was palpable, with several slant shots on Netflix.
NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell, making his Radio City stage debut, said:We’ve been involved in the ad-supported video business since literally the earliest moments of our company’s history. It is not an extension of our core business or a pivot. This is our core business. It’s fashionable to talk about how much money [media companies] spend on content. But our real competitive advantage lies in the breadth and strength of our platforms.
These platforms, which include television studios (UCP, Universal Television), movie studios (Universal, DreamWorks), Focus Features), flagship broadcaster NBC and its affiliate stations, as well as Telemundo, and a myriad of brands news and entertainment (Bravo, USA, E!, CNBC, MSNBC), NBC Sports’ extensive rights bank (Olympics, NFL, Spanish rights for this year’s FIFA World Cup) and universal theme parks – make NBCU the “number one company by total reach, period,” Shell said.
Linda Yaccarino, president of global advertising and partnerships, highlighted the importance of advertisers to NBCU’s core business, while focusing on Netflix. “The ad can feel like an afterthought or worse, just a new idea to activate a revenue stream,” she said, clearly referencing Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ post-stock musings on the launch of an ad-supported level on its platform. “At NBCUniversal, advertising has always been part of our DNA and part of our future.”
The company’s One Platform initiative, which enables marketers to target audiences across the entire NBCU ecosystem, “will be future-proofed for the entire ad-supported ecosystem” , she added.
Peacock’s lineup took center stage in the presentation, with “Bel-Air” star Jabari Banks and the rest of the cast of Peacock’s top-running original to talk about the show’s success and of the upcoming second season, which will be released early next year. New Peacock Originals include the limited series “Last Light,” headlined by “Lost” star Matthew Fox and “Downton Abbey” Joanne Froggatt; “The Resort”, which looks like a fake “White Lotus”; thriller ‘Friend of the Family’ and a limited series ‘Best Man: The Final Chapters’, which reunites cast members from the hit movie franchise including Morris Chestnut, Melissa De Sousa, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long and Harold Perrineau. Kim Kardashian’s current lover Pete Davidson, wearing a New York Magazine baseball cap, was joined on stage by Edie Falco, who will play his mother in the Peacock comedy “Bupkis,” a fictionalized version of Davidson’s life produced by Lorne Michaels of “Saturday Night Live”. and written by Davidson, Dave Sirius and Judah Miller.
The presentation opened with Kelly Clarkson, who is ubiquitous on NBC (with her daytime and primetime speaker, “The Voice” and “American Song Contest”) singing “Queen of the Night” and turned ended with Miley Cyrus, who will return to host NBC’s New Year’s Eve Countdown this year, performing Madonna’s “Wrecking Ball” and “Like a Prayer.” But it was “Late Night” host Seth Meyers who provided perhaps the most relevant send-off for the assembled crowd. Surveying the crowded audience at famed Radio City, Meyers reflected: ‘What a historic room to tell people you’ve caught COVID[-19] in.”