NBC Has Pole Position in Strong Upfront: Burke

Add NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke to the chorus of TV execs predicting a strong upfront.

During Comcast’s earnings call with analysts Wednesday morning, Burke was asked about NBC’s approach to the upfront.

He said that TV was improving its position against digital.

“A year ago, a lot of advertisers pulled back and didn't spend as much in the upfront. I think part of the thinking was we can always spend later and there's plenty of places to spend our money on digital. I think the emotion of the market has swung pretty dramatically over the last year,” Burke said. “ I think people have come to the realization that broad television reach is really important in a campaign that digital has a place but television has a big place. And a lot of people, I think, who did not come into the upfront market last year paid significantly more in what has been one of the strongest scatter markets I've ever seen. So in terms of market dynamics, we're going into the upfront season, I think, with a lot of wind at our back, and my prediction is that it's going to be a strong upfront.”

Burke thinks NBCU, including its Spanish-language business,  will be one of the market’s big winners.

“We think we're in the pole position for that strong upfront. We represent about 20% of the eyeballs in television, if you add up broadcast and cable. NBC is on its way to its third annual 18 to 49 victory. We're doing very well in sports and news at NBC. And then our cable channels are strong,” he said. “ I'm glad you pointed out Telemundo. Telemundo used to be a weak second. We're beating Univision most nights at 10:00 and have closed the gap with Univision. And I think in a number of our channels, we're still underpriced relative to people that we're beating or close to or at least competitive to. So I think we're going into the upfront in a very strong position.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.