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NBCUniversal Says Upfront Sales Were Record-Setting

Linda Yaccarino at 2022 NBCUniversal Upfront
Linda Yaccarino NBCUniversal's upfront at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (Image credit: Charles Sykes/NBCUniversal)

NBCUniversal said it had a record-setting upfront, with key parts of its business posting significant gains.

The company specified that it saw increases in broadcast entertainment and NFL football, digital and streaming with Peacock, tech-enabled buying and local ad sales. 

The gains followed last year’s gangbusters upfront and came amid concerns that inflation could throttle the post-COVID economy.

Paramount Global, Fox and The CW have already completed their upfront deals. At a recent investor conference, NBCU CEO Jeff Shell said the company was seeing price increases in the high-single digit range. He said dollar volume was similar to last year.Execs from Paramount and Fox also expressed similar sentiments about the upfront market.

Now that it’s done, NBCU said volume was up from last year, and the highest since Comcast acquired NBCU in 2010. The increase was driven by 20% growth in digital, including streaming platform Peacock doubling its revenue to more than $1 billion.

Also: NBCU Plays Up Varied Portfolio at Upfront Presentation

It said it also had 20% growth in entertainment and NFL on broadcast and in multicultural segments, led by the upcoming World Cup soccer tournament on Telemundo.

NBCU is among the companies that have been most vocal about needing an alternative to using Nielsen’s legacy ratings as currency for selling commercials. NBCU said that in the upfront, more than 40% of its upfront business was conducted outside of traditional age and gender guarantees.

NBCU also said its advanced advertising products were in demand, with investments increasing by 30%. 

In cable, NBCU said it saw strong demand, with pricing on par with broadcast rates.

Also: Linda Yaccarino Sees NBCU Thriving Whether or Not Market Is Strong

“Advertising is a futures market, and if the results of this Upfront say anything, it’s that we have built the future our partners want.” NBCU chairman, global advertising & partnerships Linda Yaccarino said. “The momentum of this year’s Upfront is underscored by our commitment to bring both simplicity and flexibility to a complex marketplace. Whether it’s advertising technology and data, an ad supported streaming service, premium content opportunities founded on our iconic IP, we deliver a comprehensive one-video ecosystem that yields impact for all our partners.” 

NBCU said that it saw a 40% increase in spending by pharmaceutical marketers. Travel was bouncing back after the pandemic with a 30% increase. Other strong categories included retail, quick-service restaurants, technology, social and streaming. ■

Jon Lafayette
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.