In an aggressive push, NBCUniversal will pitch advertisers on the bulk of its entertainment-focused cable networks in an “upfront” presentation held during a week at one time reserved solely for broadcast outlets.
NBCU said Friday it would group cable outlets including Bravo, E!, Esquire Network, Oxygen, Sprout, Syfy, and USA Network into a single presentation to be held Thursday, May 15, at New York’s Javits Center. In the recent past, NBCU has promoted only USA Network during that time, with its many other cable outlets making pitches in March and April, part of the regular drumbeat of promotion typically attached to the so-called “upfront” market, when TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming TV season.
The New York Times previously reported the information about NBCU’s scheduling of upfront presentations.
The company will make its multi-network pitch at the tail end of a week jammed with presentations from CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox, along with other big cable outlets such as ESPN and the entertainment networks owned by Time Warner’s Turner programming unit. Spanish-language broadcasters Univision and Telemundo also are slated to make upfront pitches at this time; in recent years, other Spanish-language media outlets have joined the fray.
Pitching only USA, as it has in the past, at a time when NBCU has been attempting to cajole more advertisers to buy across its various holdings may have seemed self-defeating. Since Linda Yaccarino took over as president of ad sales at NBCUniversal in 2012, the company has emphasized larger package deals to advertisers – even assigning senior ad-sales executives to a broader portfolio of networks grouped by audience-behavior categories: broad entertainment, live viewing, digital and more. The company has even assigned a single executive to coordinate product placement and other branded-entertainment plays across its cable portfolio.
“In a world of fragmentation, aggregation and scale means everything for our clients,” Yaccarino said in a prepared statement. ” Our wide-ranging portfolio of content and unequaled targeting capabilities enable us to creatively bring together advertising opportunities to meet our clients’ needs uniquely and better than any other media company.”
At the same time, some of the cable networks are making individual presentations to journalists weeks ahead of the company’s unified cable effort – a clear signal that there may be too much information about programs and advertising offers for just a single – and likely very glitzy – meeting.
E! will hold an “upfront cocktail party” for journalists on March 26th. The network just announced its first foray into scripted programming, “The Royals.” starring Elizabeth Hurley, centered around a fictional royal family. Ad buyers suggest the network is working to replace its aging Kardashians franchise, which has fueled its programming slate for several seasons. Meantime, Bravo and Oxygen, now under the aegis of Frances Berwick after a reorganization set in motion last September by NBCU cable-entertainment programming chief Bonnie Hammer, are slated to talk up their offerings to press the morning of April 8th.
Some of NBCU’s cable-based entertainment networks may not get much spotlight during the event. NBCU’s announcement of the new unified cable pitch did not make mention of smaller holdings like Cloo, Chiller or G4. The last is quietly being extinguished as carriage agreements expire.