NBC 360 ‘Selling Point’ at Upfront

May 1, 2006  •  Post A Comment

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

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

But NBC 360 is not directly affecting the network’s current development slate, Mr. Zucker said in a follow-up interview with TelevisionWeek.

“It’s not affecting what shows get picked up to pilot, or even what gets picked up to air,” he said. “Certainly on the NBC Entertainment side we have a lot of work to do to improve the prime-time lineup. First and foremost, that has to be taken care of.”

While NBC can control content it owns outright, the network still relies on outside suppliers such as 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. Television, who may have different ideas about how to take advantage of digital platforms.

“Different production companies have different agendas,” Mr. Zucker said. “We’re talking to 20th about [‘My Name Is Earl.’] We think it only helps the show.”

During the Upfront Summit, Mr. Zucker 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.” Mr. Zucker said NBC put extra money into development and started its development process early.

“That has paid off,” he said. NBC has already picked up three dramas, and the ability to see episodes early will allow the network to take out some of the inevitable new-show kinks.

Christopher Lisotta contributed to this report.