Comcast/NBCU

Conor Matthews

Comcast NBCUniversal logo featuring the iconic rainbow peackock

Since the invention of the radio, American families have gathered around the heath of the house daily, clamoring around an electric conduit of entertainment. History has developed the American hearth in time, from radio to television and film, and now, to the Internet. Since its inception, the American hearth’s form has changed, but one constant has remained—NBC. If the social, emotional, and cultural importance of Television, Radio, and Film are likened to a literal and metaphorical hearth, then NBCUniversal is the fortress in which this hearth was built.

The Construction of America’s TV Fortress

In 1926 David Sarnoff founded the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), making it America’s first permanent radio network. [1] NBC ruled the Golden Era of Radio in the 1930s, and Sarnoff was busy developing television for NBC.

Americans gather around the “American hearth” to watch TV

In 1939 at the World’s Far, Sarnoff presented regular television service on behalf of NBC. Meanwhile, Universal—founded by Carl Laemmle in 1912—was producing huge blockbusters that garnered Academy Awards. The two media companies would hold America’s attention independent of each other until their merger in 2004, at the hands of their parents General Electric and Vivendi.

The Acquisition of America’s TV Fortress

Comcast, however, bought the entire NBCUniversal assets from GE and Vivendi in March 2013. The merge augmented Comcast’s power to produce, and distribute media, a move critiqued by Susan Crawford as being too monopolistic. “‘Comcast [is] in a prime position to be the unchallenged provider of everything — all data, all information, all entertainment — flowing over the wires in its market areas’”.[2] Despite naysayers, the merge proved fruitful as NBC emerged as No. 1 in adults 18-49 for the Primetime Season 2013-14 year; the first time in over 10 years that NBC earned this superlative.[3]

The list of assets owned by NBCUniversal, and through extension Comcast, is expansive. NBC Cable boasts the names of well-known cable networks like Bravo, E!, USA, and Syfy; while NBCU has four broadcast assets—NBC, NBC News, NBC Sports, and Telemundu.

The Optimization of America’s TV Fortress

            NBCU’s unwavering dominance in the TV industry has allowed the company to look inward at the current way their business operates, specifically their relationship to advertisers. No matter the client or project, however, NBCU remains focused on retaining the bold, and effective brand their audience knows well.

On February 24, 2016, NBCU announced a reworking of NBCUx, a development that allows programmatic buys for advertising clients on the company’s linear TV networks. NBCUx uses NBCU’s Advanced Targeting Platform to pinpoint correlations between the ad’s audience and the clients’ consumers.[4] NBCUx aids clients in understanding which ad slots are most cost efficient and worthwhile. Prior to the 2016 announcement of NBCUx, NBCUx was first used by a few select clients on NBCU’s digital platforms after the company’s 2015 Upfront. Since then, the success of NBCUx has been noted by Mike Farrell of Multichannel, who writes, “With ATP, NBCU has demonstrated that ads have a higher reach, and are more efficient as they are run across the entire portfolio”.[5] Khrishan Bhatia, EVP of Business Operations and Strategy, noted that last year NBCU’s digital growth was comprised of 40% video.[6] In turn, 40% of that 40% came from programmatic sources.

The 2016 expansion of NBCUx enables clients looking to buy ads on TV to forgo the traditional Nielsen model, which uses demographics ratings. NBCUx is pioneering programmatic buys in the TV world. Bhatia told reporters, “It’s the industry’s first national programmatic TV offering at scale”. NBCUx will be NBCU’s main talking point at their May 17, 2016 Upfront in New York City.[7]

NBCUx is working hard to pinpoint valuable customers and audiences of TV, something metadata and cookie mining is already helping many online platforms do. The advertisements on online platforms, however, lack what the television advertisements do possess —ads that make people want to get up and buy a product. On the subject of advertisements, Jim Bankoff, charmain and CEO of Vox Media details, “‘awareness creation, identity creation, brand building [are] the kind of things that television and magazines have been good at, creating that experience and telling marketers’ stories’”.[8] Understanding this dichotomy, NBCU is utilizing its 2015 $200million investment in the digital publisher, Vox Media, to reinvigorate the online ad-viewing experience.[9] The synthesis of this partnership is an inventory tool called Concert.

Concert guarantees brands advertisements that are mutually beneficial for both parties, utilizing “data targeting and a large, fraud-free audience that results in performance that’s 12 times what the average banner ad delivers”. Bankoff elaborates, “…now marketers who are looking to build brand can take advantage of the capabilities but can have beautiful advertising that performs well for them that doesn’t irritate—and actually delights—the audience…”.[10] Between all of NBCU and Vox Media’s online properties, Concert will have an audience of over 170 million people, with a majority of that audience being an extremely valuable demographic—Millennials.

Moynihan-Fiat

Bobby Moynihan of ‘Saturday Night Life’ stars in a Fiat commercial [11]

Continuing to optimize their relationship with advertisements, The NBCU Content Studio was created with brands in mind. Specifically, NBCU will utilize the celebrity brands they have, like Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and Bobby Moynihan of Saturday Night Live to create content for companies looking to promote their own brand.[11] The NBCU Content Studio enables companies to fulfill the growing need to publish their own branded video content across multiple platforms like, Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, and their own website. The clients will be able to utilize NBCU’s “creative talent, data, distribution and scale (including its partners BuzzFeed, Vox and AOL)”, while putting a representative of NBCU Television in front of the audience. The NBCU Content Studio is an example of NBCU’s understanding of the cogent convergence of brand and media.

The Future of America’s TV Fortress

        Looking at the future of NBCUniversal indicates the same strong emphasis on online platforms as the company is doing currently. Specifically, in April 2016, NBCU and Amazon reached an agreement for the latter to carry SeeSo as part of their Amazon Prime bundle.[12] SeeSo is a comedy-only streaming service which features NBC sitcoms and other syndicated comedy programs. SeeSo’s potential success, or lack thereof, will help inform potential future endeavors of the company into OTP streaming services.

NBCUniversal’s May 17 upfront will be a critical moment to test the work the company has done on NBCUx, Concert, and The NBCU Content Studio. By buying into NBCU’s Upfront, clients will validate or invalidate NBCU’s efforts to optimize the workings of their company and brand. Furthermore, this coming year will serve as a test-run for the three projects. While some clients will leave NBCU’s Upfront with three more tools at their dispense, the work will continue after this year. NBCU’s relentless position at the top of the media industry inspires to make what works, really work.

 


[1] “Credo & History.” NBCUniversal Careers. NBCUniversal, n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.
<http://www.nbcunicareers.com/our-company/credo-history>.

[2] Gustin, Sam. “Comcast’s NBCUniversal Deal: As One Media Era Ends, Another
Begins.” TIME. N.p., 14 Feb. 2014. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.
<http://business.time.com/2013/02/14/
comcasts-nbcuniversal-deal-as-one-media-era-ends-another-begins/>.

[3]”NBC Finishes No. 1 In 18-49 Demo For 2013-14 Primetime Season.” The Deadline.
N.p., 14 Sept. 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. <http://deadline.com/2014/09/
nbc-ratings-primetime-2013-2014-primetime-season-835093/>.

[4] LaFayette, Jon.”New Currencies Used in NBCU Ad Data Deals.” Broadcasting & Cable. N.p., 14 Apr. 2016. Web. 19 Apr. 2016. <http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/
currency/new-currencies-used-nbcu-ad-data-deals/155515>.

[5] Farrell, Mike. “#AdvancedAd 2016: Programmatic Expands Choice.” Multichannel
News. N.p., 5 Apr. 2016. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
<http://www.multichannel.com/news/advanced-advertising/
advancedad-2016-programmatic-expands-choice/403878>.

[6] Lynch, Jason. “NBCUniversal Will Start Selling TV Advertising Programmatically This
Fall.” AdWeek. N.p., 24 Feb. 2016. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.
<http://www.adweek.com/news/television/
nbcuniversal-will-start-selling-tv-advertising-programmatically-fall-169850>.

[7] Andreeva, Nellie. “NBCUniversal Folds All Cable Networks Into NBC Upfront
Presentation.” The Deadline. N.p., 30 Mar. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.
<http://deadline.com/2016/03/
nbcuniversal-upfront-presentation-nbc-usa-syfy-msnbc-1201728552/>.

[8] Lynch, Jason. “NBCUniversal and Vox Team Up to Sell Cross-Platform, Premium
Digital Advertising.” AdWeek. N.p., 4 Apr. 2016. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.
<http://www.adweek.com/news/television/
nbcuniversal-and-vox-team-sell-cross-platform-premium-digital-advertising-170588>.

[9] Baysinger, Tim. “Why NBCU Invested $200 Million in Vox.” AdWeek. N.p., 13 Aug.
2015. Web. 23 Apr. 2016. <http://www.adweek.com/news/television/
why-nbcu-invested-200-million-vox-166368>.

[10]Lafayette, Jon. “NBCU, Vox Harmonize in Digital Ad ‘Concert’.”
Broadcasting & Cable. N.p., 4 Apr. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.
<http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/currency/
nbcu-vox-harmonize-digital-ad-concert/155173>.

[11] Lynch, Jason. “NBCU’s New Studio Is Creating Branded Content for Viewers Beyond Its Own Platforms.” AdWeek. N.p., 20 Mar. 2016. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.
<http://www.adweek.com/news/television/
nbcus-new-studio-creating-branded-content-viewers-beyond-its-own-platforms-170264>.

[12] Would, Kristofer. “NBCUniversal’s comedy streaming service to allow
subscriptions via Amazon Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/movies/
nbcu-seeso-amazon-subscription/#ixzz46relKHHk Follow us: @digitaltrends on
Twitter | digitaltrendsftw on Facebook.” Digital Trends. N.p., 20 Apr.
2016. Web. 22 Apr. 2016. <http://www.digitaltrends.com/movies/
nbcu-seeso-amazon-subscription/>.

 

 

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