NBC Turns Upfront Into ‘Spotlight’

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NBC will be holding an upfront event after all, sort of.

The Peacock network today said that in April it would announce a 52-week primetime slate and then meet with prospective advertisers and agencies for three days in New York, before embarking on a roadshow that would also extend to Chicago and Los Angeles. Those conclaves will be followed by a “spotlight event” on May 12 in Manhattan, during which the full scale of NBCU offerings would be put on display in a multimedia, interactive environment. The location was not disclosed.

As for the NBC Universal Cable Entertainment networks, a series of-one-on-one client meetings are in the offing. However, SciFi Channel will host an upfront event at the Morgan Library and Museum in Manhattan on March 18.

For the second consecutive year, USA Network will hold its upfront event at The Modern restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art, where talent and executives will mingle with advertisers and members of the press the evening of March 26.

Bravo is opting solely for individual client meetings, while Oxygen’s event plans had not been determined by press time, according to an NBCU spokeswoman.

Last month during a keynote address at the National Association of Television Program Executives conference, NBCU president and CEO Jeff Zucker -- with the industry still in the grasp of the Writers Guild of America 

strike -- said NBC would only commission a few pilots this year and was considering ending the traditional upfront practice of trotting out talent and plying advertisers with booze and crustaceans. Other members of the Big Four, though, all will continue to hold their upfronts, albeit perhaps in less opulent manners.

“A business-as-usual approach no longer applies in today's multiplatform media environment,” Zucker said in a statement. "The traditional primetime presentation shines a light on only one piece of what our company has to offer. This new approach gives our clients an early look at NBC's scheduling strategy and allows us to showcase the full suite of creative advertising solutions and customized services that NBC Universal is uniquely positioned to provide to the marketplace."

Instead as part of its new selling process, NBC Entertainment will unveil a year-round primetime programming schedule in early April. Then over a three-day period in New York, Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff, co-chairmen of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, will meet with advertisers and agency partners to discuss advertising, marketing and sponsorship opportunities.

More client and agency meetings will then follow on the aforementioned three-city roadshow, before things wind back to Manhattan May 12. The spotlight event will not only emphasize NBC, but feature entries for NBCU Cable Entertainment; NBC News; CNBC; out-of- home assets; digital properties; wireless and mobile content; research and technology centers; NBC Sports and Olympics holdings; Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo;  international opportunities; and “green initiatives.

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