NBCU Makes Early Pitch for Streaming-Video Ads

NBCUniversal won’t launch a streaming service until the middle of next year. But it made an effort to win advertising for the venture today.

Speaking to advertisers at its annual “upfront” presentation, NBCU ad-sales chief Linda Yaccarino tried to spark conversations about buying commercials in the company’s new slate of TV programs for the fall – and the on-demand service that it has yet to fully describe and wont be extant until 2020.

“Next year we’re going to unveil the largest initiative in our company’s history: We’re going to have our own ad supported platform,” said Yaccarino, chairman of ad sales and client partnerships at NBCU. “While other companies are pushing advertisers out, we’re bringing them in. It will have a slate of originals and a gigantic library of all favorites. The shows that people love the most and stream the most are coming home at a price that every person can afford: free.”

Walt Disney’s Disney Plus will not carry commercials, executives have said. And a service slated to launch from WarnerMedia is also expected to run ad free, though executives are seen launching an ad-supported version in months to come.

NBCUniversal will enter an increasingly crowded field. Viacom recently spent $340 million to acquire the Pluto streaming-video outlet, and is eager to run advertising on it. CBS offers ad-supported options for its “CBS All Access” streaming-video service. Hulu, which is jointly owned by Walt Disney and NBCU parent Comcast, also has an ad-supported tier, and has developed some new ad formats that appear to be to Madison Avenue’s liking, including commercials from Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble that appear when a subscriber opts to pause a streaming selection. Hulu is planning another ad model aimed to dovetail with people who like to binge-view, or watch multiple episodes one after the other.

Some of the bigger players in the field – Netflix and Amazon – do not run video commercials during programs, though both have struck production deals that place advertisers’ products on screen. Amazon also runs interactive banners ads on various landing pages of its Prime video service.

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