At NBC, Digital Rollout Begins

Apr 13, 2008  •  Post A Comment

NBC’s digital executives this week are putting the finishing touches on pricing plans for the digital packages that they’ll be touting to advertisers at the network’s upfront in May.
The network, which earlier this month was the first out of the gate with its lineup of digital offerings, including both webisodes and streaming shows on NBC.com and Hulu.com, has started talking to advertisers about what those integrated packages will look like.
NBC’s advertising deals will include a new slate of Web video and interactive online content related to its programming, such as original webisodes of “Heroes,” “Chuck” and “The Office” running on NBC.com starting in July, exclusive video and interactive content for “30 Rock” and an original digital show, “Fears, Secrets & Desires,” launching this summer.
In addition, the network offers full-episode streaming of most of its shows on its site and on Hulu.com. NBC.com also includes behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes, trailers, promos and other short video clips.
NBC’s efforts to pitch its digital lineup to marketers may prove to be a bellwether because, after YouTube and MySpace, TV networks are commanding most of the online video views on the Web.
Also, many advertisers say they are more comfortable advertising in front of network content than in front of consumer-created fare. If broadcasters play their cards right, they could be the big winners in collecting the lion’s share of the $1.4 billion in ad money that should flow into online video this year.
NBC said its digital sales growth is pacing ahead of the Internet industry in general. “The interactive advertising economy is expected to grow 20 to 25% year over year,” said Peter Naylor, senior VP of digital media at NBC. “We are bullish that NBC.com will grow faster than the industry as a whole for two reasons. First, we are creating more and richer content and bringing it to the audience in a variety of ways. Second, consumer media consumption patterns are changing.”
Convergence Consulting Group reports that $2.3 billion in ad spend will flow into broadcast and cable network Web sites this year for all forms of online ads, including banners and video.
That’s why networks are putting so much stock in their digital pitches. Late last month, NBC Universal hosted an internal meeting in New York that brought together the on-air and digital sales staffers for NBC and the company’s cable networks to review the pricing and marketing of the digital offerings for each network, said Vivi Zigler, executive VP of NBC digital entertainment.
“They then estimate traffic against those pieces and that goes toward what you expect to bring in monetarily,” she said.
NBC will be pitching pre-roll videos in front of its shows and webisodes, in addition to companion ads such as banners. While online sales will be a key part of the upfront, Internet ads are sold on a year-round basis, Ms. Zigler said. About 50% of the network’s digital sales are part of overall cross-platform buys, she said.
Ms. Zigler added that advertisers usually want to buy a show across all platforms in order to reach fans wherever they are. That’s why the network aims to create customized online extensions for each show, which could include character blogs, trivia games, casual games, outtakes, deleted scenes and webisodes.
Advertisers like that approach. “It’s important to find the video where consumers are watching it, whether on TV, online or mobile,” said Carrie Drinkwater, senior VP and group account director at Havas Media. She added that broadcast networks are well-positioned to snag online ad dollars because the audience is engaged and the content is high-quality.
The amount of video content on NBC.com ebbs and flows depending on the schedule, but usually includes somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 pieces of video at any given time, Ms. Zigler said.


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