NBC execs talked up stars and synergy at the Peacock’s upfront presentation Monday at Radio City Music Hall.
NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt emphasized to media buyers that the net will focus much of its marketing efforts for the fall on the launch of J.J. Abrams drama “Revolution” in the Mondays at 10 p.m. timeselot and the new comedies filling its Tuesday 9-10 p.m. block, “Go On” and Ryan Murphy’s “The New Normal.”
Although NBC unveiled its schedule on Sunday, Greenblatt and NBC Entertainment prexy Jennifer Salke still had some programming news for the assembled media buyers and journos. Greenblatt confirmed that new episodes of “Grimm” will bow in August immediately after the networks’ coverage of the Summer Olympic Games in London. Reality skein “Stars Earn Stripes,” from producers Mark Burnett and Dick Wolf, will launch shortly after the Olympics conclude as well. Greenblatt also mentioned plans to launch a Canadian drama import, “Saving Hope,” a medical drama with a supernatural twist, this summer prior to the July 27-Aug. 12 Olympics frame.
NBC also confirmed it has given a 10-episode straight-to-series order to a pirate drama from scribe Neil Cross (“Luther”) and producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald that is targeted for midseason. Skein will be financed by newly formed indie outfit Georgeville Television and Motion Picture Capital, a unit of Reliance Entertainment.
And to no one’s surprise, Greenblatt confirmed “30 Rock” will end its acclaimed run next season with a one-hour finale.
While NBC touted the star power the net has brought to its new series this year — from “Book of Mormon” star Josh Gad in “1600 Penn” to Matthew Perry in “Go On” — the actors were upstaged Monday as the antics of Justin Kirk’s monkey sidekick in veterinary comedy “Animal Practice” drew the biggest laughs of the sesh. Among the new shows seen in clips, “Revolution” and Jekyll-and-Hyde drama “Do No Harm” seem to have made the biggest impact on the aud.
As always, NBC made the most of its Radio City setting, offering the crowd two performances from “Smash” stars Katharine McPhee, and Megan Hilty, in addition to a song from “The Voice” winner Jermaine Paul. “The Voice” offered inspiration for Greenblatt’s upfront introduction, which came when the show’s ubiquitous red swivel chairs deposited him onstage.
The presentation opened with a pretaped segment in which Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey intercept a package of pilots with footage of many NBC series being rendered as musicals including “Grimm,” “Law and Order: SVU” and, most memorably, “Meet the Press,” featuring David Gregory singing at his anchor desk, surrounded by showgirls.
NBC Broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert made a big pitch for the collective strength of Comcast and NBCU as marshalled by Project Symphony, the label given promotional synergy efforts across Comcast’s 97 media properties. That could be good news for NBC’s Monday 10 p.m. drama and Tuesday 9 p.m. comedy pairing.
Harbert called on the industry to make progress on cross-platform measurement citing increases that make viewing in digital windows meaningful to the bottom line. He also floated the notion of introducing a C7 rating, or extending the time frame that DVR viewing contributes to the ratings used by advertisers to determine rates. At present the industry standard is live-plus three days, or C3, but net execs would like to see that extended to seven days to reflect the dramatic rise in DVR viewing in recent years.
Harbert also took direct aim at the controversial DVR commercial-skipping technology introduced last week by Dish Network. Its “Auto Hop” feature allows viewers to leapfrog the entire commercial pod with the push of a button, raising hackles with ad-dependent broadcasters. Harbert sounded the alarm to Madison Avenue.
“This is an insult to our joint investment in programming, and (NBC) shouldn’t stand for it,” he said.