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NBC Universal Creates Digital Video Initiative to Try to Keep Ad Dollars In-House

Series Will Live On NBCU Digital Platforms, Hulu and VOD

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NBC Universal has announced a new video initiative, which it will use to create content specifically intended for digital platforms.

The unit is starting with four series, which will be available across NBC Universal's digital platforms, on Hulu and on TV via video-on-demand.

It's the latest attempt to capitalize on marketers' increasing desire to buy digital video alongside TV -- or, at a minimum, TV networks' desire to sell any such video themselves rather than, say, Yahoo.

"The combination of digital video alongside television content is extremely powerful and becoming an increasingly important part of the connection advertisers make with consumers," said Linda Yaccarino, president, advertising sales, at NBC Universal said in a press release. "We want to offer our partners the unique ability to harness the power of our creative assets along with our distribution capabilities including the video-on-demand platform like no other company can do."

NBC Universal says it has an advantage in promoting its digital videos via its robust portfolio of broadcast and cable networks, something pure digital players like Yahoo and AOL don't have. VOD on TV also gives the company another platform for the content that's not available to digital players.

Other broadcasters have attempted similar efforts. CBS Interactive announced the development of two series at last year's NewFronts: "Baker Street Irregulars," a spin-off of "Elementary," and "Person of Interest: Animated." The concept of the "Elementary" spin-off was changed due to sponsor requests, according to CBS, which refashioned it as "Power of Observation." The "Person of Interest" web series did not materialize.

CBS Interactive also has the music series "Live on Letterman" and country-music series, "ACM Sessions." It also has web extensions for "Big Brother" and "Survivor."

NBC Universal's four initial series include "Tesla and Twain," a comedy loosely based on a real friendship between the author and an inventor in Los Angeles; "Last Single Girl," which tells the story of a single, over-educated and under-employed young woman coming to terms with being a grown-up while her best friends are getting married; "Saturday Night Line," an interactive digital series featuring the super fans who wait in the "Saturday Night Live" standby line outside of 30 Rock; and "Hereos Reborn: Digital Series," a prequel to the previously announced "Hereos" mini-series coming to TV.

In many cases, the development of these digital series will depend on collaboration with advertising partners. Episodes will run between on 5 and 25 minutes long, for example, partly depending on advertisers' desires.

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