|NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker talks about the network's recent failures and future potential.
In an interview with Ad Ageâs Abbey Klaassen, he talked of what he sees as highlights in an otherwise tough year in which the flagship network he heads fell from first to fourth place and took a $1 billion revenue hit in the upfront. Mr. Zucker also discussed whether consumers will pay for NBCâs prime-time programs, where advertisers fit in the VOD model and the promising comedy âMy Name is Earl.â
Advertising Age: How many consumers do you think will be willing to pay for NBC shows on demand?
Jeff Zucker: Clearly thatâs what weâre going to find out. If you look at the music model, theyâve been willing to pay for songs. One thing they didnât want is the whole album. Theyâre willing to pay if they want to watch it or listen to it. Thereâs reason to believe if we make it available to them, theyâll pay for the convenience. ... This is recognition of the fact that the way people are consuming TV is changing and we have to change along with it or get left behind.
AA: Is there an advertising model within VOD and, if so, what does it look like?
Mr. Zucker: Our offering is commercial-free and we think thatâs an incentive to consumers who will want to pay 99Âą to catch up on a program. I wouldnât rule out an advertising model, but itâs just not in the cards at this time.
AA: How are ad-industry relations right now? Do you think advertisers too gleefully took advantage of the situation you were in at the upfront?
Mr. Zucker: No, I donât think so. Advertisers are our most important customers and we have to be good partners with them and deliver what they want. I hope our relationship is strong and continues to be strong.
AA: Whatâs your take on Martha and Donaldâs public feuding and Mark Burnettâs charge that the shows have split âThe Apprenticeâ audience?
Mr. Zucker: If we could do it over again, we wouldnât have two cycles on at the same time. Weâre actually pleased with how The Donaldâs version has done. ... Obviously weâre disappointed in the ratings of the Martha version.
AA: NBC has said it might take more than a year to get viewing levels back on track. How far out do you think that is and what do you do to rebuild your image in the meantime?
Mr. Zucker: These things donât turn around overnight and weâre looking at a two- or three-year turnaround. You start with one show at a time. Weâve clearly done that with âMy Name is Earlâ and âThe Officeâ behind it. ... Thatâs the key.
AA: Will we see âEarlâ move to Thursday?
Mr. Zucker: Ah ... weâre certainly looking at all our options.