By Jason Lynch
The broadcast upfront week just got a lot more interesting—and a little bit shorter.
NBCUniversal has decided to merge its NBC, Telemundo and NBCU cable entertainment upfronts into a single NBCU presentation, which will be held on Monday, May 16 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. The news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
Traditionally, NBC has had the Monday Radio City upfront to itself, with Telemundo following on Tuesday evening, and NBCU cable wrapping upfront week with a Thursday afternoon event at the Javits Center.
Now, Linda Yaccarino, chairman, advertising sales and client partnerships for NBCUniversal, will make just one upfront pitch to advertisers and buyers that week instead of three separate ones.
“As a media company, we have an unparalleled array of networks and digital platforms that reach the most audiences across all dayparts. Our event will reflect the way we go to market as a unified portfolio which makes it easier for our clients to do business with us all together,” said Yaccarino said in a statement. “There isn’t going to be an upfront event as big and bold as this one. Through our content, we have an unrivaled ability to create an emotional connection like no one else. There’s only one place to go for scale and meaningful consumer engagement.”
In many ways, it’s a move that makes sense for NBCU, which has been transacting all of its advertising under a single, companywide portfolio since 2013. Last year’s upfront brought in $6 billion across the portfolio.
Last November, Yaccarino continued streamlining NBCU ad sales by merging her linear and digital ad sales teams. “Because of the scale of our company, we needed to be more accessible in a bigger, faster way to our clients,” who had been requesting a more streamlined method of working with the company, she told Adweek at the time.
This will also mark the end of NBCU’s combined cable upfront, which the network had added to broadcast upfront week in 2014. Previously, it held individual upfronts for its cable networks like Bravo, USA and Oxygen.
Advertisers and buyers will certainly appreciate having two fewer upfronts to attend during that overstuffed week, especially because so many of them have run out of steam by the time they arrive at NBCU’s cable presentation on Thursday afternoon.
But that Monday upfront—which will now cover Bravo, CNBC, E!, Esquire Network, Golf Channel, MSNBC, NBC Entertainment, NBC News, NBC Sports Network, NBC Universo, Oxygen, Sprout, Syfy, Telemundo and USA—could easily turn into a marathon, as each of those broadcast and cable networks will get their due. Plus, Yaccarino will also need to highlight her team’s new initiatives, including selling TV advertising programmatically for the first time this fall.
The new format also puts NBC at a disadvantage compared to its fellow broadcast networks, which won’t need to share the spotlight as much, if at all, during their respective upfronts later that week. It’s also unlikely that the combined upfront will allow for spectacles likeNBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt’s duet with Dolly Parton, which was a memorable, surreal highlight of last year’s NBC presentation.