Skip to main content

Upfront Notebook: NBC Breaks the Data Barrier

The data upfront got underway this morning.

After NBC rolled out star power including Jimmy Fallon, Dolly Parton and Neil Patrick Harris, NBCUniversal's head of sales Linda Yaccarino took the stage at Radio City Music Hall and dropped the four letter word: Data.

"Yep, I said it," Yaccarino said with a smile. "You are going to hear it no less than 1,000 times this week.  But it makes a lot of sense for you to hear it here first.  Data is transforming everything in the way we think about media."

NBCU has been early to embrace data as a way to do business and to head digital competitors. Yaccarino pointed out data-driven products NBCU has already announced and said they meant that marketers "no longer have to choose between data-driven targeting and the power and scale of television."

Yaccarino talked about NBCU's content, the kind of high-quality video marketers want to be associated with. She said that video is the stuff that's at the center of the media ecosystem, the stuff that's tweeted about and streamed. And it's the stuff that helps sell product—and all that data proves it, she said.

"Fueled by Comcast, and Comcast's investments in our sports rights, our digital distribution, technology, data acquisition, advanced analytics, creative capabilities and of course all that premium video content you heard [NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt] talk about, our momentum is sure to accelerate in the coming year.  And so will the pace of change in our industry," she said.

"We're here because we want to show all of you what can happen when the best entertainment comes together with the best technology and how it comes together to engage all of your consumers. And how powerful it can be for your brands—remember, sell more stuff—and how when these things join forces we can redefine our future."

Yaccarino also helped give a birthday surprise to Melissa Shapiro, the new head buyer at MediaVest. When Neil Patrick Harris came out to promote his new show, Best Time Ever, he said he knew someone in the audience had a secret.  Turned out it was Shaprio—but the birthday wasn't the secret. She'd had lunch at Market Table restaurant with Yaccarino and executive VP of sales Laura Molen. Unbeknownst to her, Harris was the doorman that day and NBC Broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert and executive VP of sales Dan Lovinger were in disguise as part of the wait staff. All of this was confirmed by embarrassing video. Who knew she would be the star of NBC's upfront, Shapiro was asked. "A lot of people. Just not me," she said.