Zucker Emphasizes Multiple Platforms Going Into Upfront

Apr 26, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Jeff Zucker, CEO of the NBC Universal Television Group, said NBC 360, the company’s plan to have broadband, mobile and other digital extensions for its shows, will be “a major selling point as we go into the upfront.”

Speaking at the TelevisionWeek Upfront Summit in New York on Wednesday, Mr. Zucker said the market has reached a tipping point for this approach. “The technology is finally available and ready to make good on the promises of the past,” he said.

Mr. Zucker also called the network’s new “Sunday Night Football” package the “cornerstone of our rebuilding strategy,” noting that the network is not in denial about its current fourth-place status after a decade on top of the ratings among 18- to 49-year-old viewers. Football will also serve as a promotional vehicle to help the network relaunch its Monday and Tuesday prime-time schedules.

He added that the network’s development has been “exceptional” and the feedback from buyers has been “terrific.” Mr. Zucker said NBC put extra money into development and started its development process early. “That has paid off,” he said. Three dramas have already been picked up, and the ability to see episodes early will allow the network to take out some of the inevitable new-show kinks.

In last year’s upfront, NBC was forced to cut its rates and wound up with about $800 million less in advertising commitments than in the previous year.

Mr. Zucker said the harsh outcome was not the result of buyers getting payback after years of NBC arrogance. “We were treated fairly,” he said. “We didn’t deliver, we didn’t have the goods, and we got treated accordingly.”