NBC to Hold Nontraditional Upfront

NBC will hold a nontraditional and extended upfront for advertisers this spring that includes multiple presentations and individual client meetings with advertisers in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, the network announced Tuesday.

The NBC Universal selling season will begin in early April with the unveiling in New York of a 52-week schedule to advertisers. That presentation will be presided over by Ben Silverman and Mark Graboff, co-chairmen of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios.

After that, sales teams will meet with clients in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

And the process will be capped off with a “spotlight event” May 12 at a Manhattan location yet to be revealed that “will showcase the full scale of the NBCU offerings in a unique, multimedia, interactive environment.”

Stars also will be in attendance at that event, according to the NBC press release.

“A business-as-usual approach no longer applies in today’s multiplatform media environment,” NBCU president and CEO Jeff Zucker said in a statement.

“The traditional primetime presentation shines a light on only one piece of what our company has to offer. This new approach gives our clients an early look at NBC’s scheduling strategy and allows us to showcase the full suite of creative advertising solutions and customized services that NBC Universal is uniquely positioned to provide to the marketplace.”

Last month at the National Association of Television Program Executives' show, Zucker gave a keynote speech in which he said NBC was rethinking its traditional upfront presentation at Radio City Music Hall and added that NBCU would only commission a handful of pilots this season.

After the strike was settled, skeptics wondered if Zucker would change his mind, especially after all of the other broadcast networks said they would stick with their traditional upfront presentation plans.

The NBC announcement came on the heels of confirmation from CBS last week that it would go ahead with its upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall, although there is likely to be less fanfare than in years past. ABC and The CW will also hold upfront presentations at Lincoln Center and Madison Square Garden, respectively. And Fox never wavered from its commitment to hold an upfront.

With a healthy amount of ad money in the market, forgoing some version of upfront presentations was an unlikely scenario, according to advertisers.

“We’re still in competition with one another, so no one is going to want to wait until the fall,” one buyer said. “The upfront still works for both sides.”