It takes money to make money, but it takes something more for an old-media company to be taken seriously in the new-media orbit these days.
NBC Universal expects that 2008 will be the banner year when revenue from its digital businesses will hit the $1 billion mark. To set the stage, NBC U has built a monument to its intentions — a 5,400-square-foot exhibit at the Consumer Electronics Show — the mecca for tech-heads — which takes over Las Vegas this week.
NBC U has signed on as CES’ first “official broadcast partner,” with plans to blanket the confab with coverage on the conglom’s various TV shows and Web properties, from “NBC Nightly News” and “Today” to various CNBC, MSNBC and Telemundo news programs to the syndicated “Access Hollywood.”
NBC U’s edifice on the CES exhibit floor will be equipped with broadcast facilities for the shows and offer an “interactive” display of the breadth of brand names, programs and pics NBC U has in its larder for digital slicing and dicing. “Today’s” Al Roker and CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo will be on duty for the Peacock during the four-day confab, as will other NBC U TV talent.
Popular on Variety
“We want to be talking about ourselves as a content company in the middle of what is one of the biggest technology shows in the world,” says Beth Comstock, NBC U’s prexy, Integrated Media. “Great content goes with great technology.”
NBC U is not the only showbiz conglom to embrace CES — Sony Pictures Television is making a big push this year — but it has been plotting its digital debutante party for more than a year, since Comstock walked the floor with NBC U execs last year.
The conglom is eager to demonstrate its commitment to developing digital business because NBC U needs to deliver sizzling growth stories not only to Wall Street but to its toughest arbiter, parent General Electric, to make good on the promise of its 2004 merger with Universal.
Comstock not only oversees NBC’s digital initiatives, but also TV advertising sales and corporate marketing and research. With advertising driving much of new media-based businesses, her focus is on meshing all the resources — be they proprietary technologies or Web properties such as iVillage.com — that NBC U needs to be able to give advertisers the ubiquity they’re looking for with mega-package deals for advertising on TV, Internet and mobile platforms — even Universal’s theme parks.
“What marketers want is the ability to reach ‘Heroes’ fans in many places as they can. It’s a packaging opportunity for us. It’s rare that a marketer comes to us who doesn’t want a mix of media,” Comstock says. “It’s about pulling those pieces together.”