NBC's Upfront Goes Digital

Jeff Zucker Says Network Sell Will Be 'TV 360'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- NBC Universal Television Group CEO Jeff Zucker outlined NBC's upfront strategy this year, saying the broadcast network would make "Television 360" its main selling point.
Jeff Zucker said every NBC program 'has to have a broadband component.'
Jeff Zucker said every NBC program 'has to have a broadband component.'

Speaking at TV Week's upfront event this morning in Midtown Manhattan, Mr. Zucker said, "TV 360 is our entire approach to TV. Programming can be developed for linear applications, but every program has to have a broadband component or a mobile application. We are going to the upfront in the next few weeks with that being our mantra. The franchise on NBC will all be about broadband and wireless applications. It's our entire approach to programming and our major selling point as we head into the upfront."

New media pacts
Among NBC Universal's recent innovations in new media: a pact with Touchstone Studios to offer NBC show "Scrubs" on Apple's iTunes platform; summer "mobisodes" of "The Office"; and a deal to offer viewers of Bravo's "Top Chef" an opportunity to buy the products on the show using PayPal's mobile text-to-buy application.

NBC will not follow ABC down the path of offering shows on its own Web site, he said, something ABC is planning to test this month. "The last thing we want to do is be chasing press releases," he said. "We need to figure out our goals. Downloading with ads, that's not something we are prepared to do or are comfortable doing at this time. We believe the affiliates are our partners. I don't think you'll see us offering programs online. It's not a model we are going to. But I wouldn't rule anything in or out."

NBC's newly purchased iVillage Web site will work in tandem with shows such as "Today," bouncing the predominantly female Web audience from one place to the other, Mr. Zucker said. He expressed regret that NBC had not stood by its former internet venture NBCi and search engine Snap. "If we'd had the guts to see it through, who knows where we'd be now," he said. "We are at a different place now. The hardware and the software is finally ready."

Behaving according to performance
When asked about last year's upfront, when NBC went to market with weak shows and asked for price increases and ended up losing around $900 million in ad commitments, Mr. Zucker said he thought that NBC probably got what it deserved. "We were treated fairly," he said. "The community behaved according to our performance." He said he didn't think there had been any payback or punishment as had been reported.

Mr. Zucker joked about the NBC audience when asked whether 18- to 49-year-olds were still the focus. "We want everybody and at this point, I'd take anybody." He underscored the importance of NBC's new contract to show National Football League games Sunday night, saying it formed the cornerstone of the network's rebuilding. "That's where it all begins, we hope -- the turnaround." He suggested that the football package would help as a promotional platform for other nights.

NBC gave early commitments to shows in March that will land on the fall schedules. Mr. Zucker said this represented a fundamental change in the business. Generally networks give their commitments to the creative community in May, when the schedules are set. "We are in a 12-month development cycle. We made that a conscious decision and it paid off."
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