Up Next: Comcast-NBCU Synergies

As Comcast officially takes
control of NBC Universal from General
Electric, plenty of synergies lie
ahead on the programming, operational
and technological fronts for the
joint venture.

The first for the new entity, though,
already hit promotionally, as NBCU
networks and websites touted fare from
the Comcast camp: Versus’s coverage of
the NHL All-Star Game weekend, from Jan. 28
to 30, and E!’s latest Kardashians franchise spinoff
, Kourtney & Kim Take New York. (The deal
was set to close just before midnight on Friday,
according to Comcast.)

John Miller, who currently serves as chairman
of the NBC Universal Marketing Council,
which determines cross-channel prioritization,
said “out of the gate, we wanted to try and
focus on Comcast properties coming into the
NBCU umbrella.”

Miller, who will also lead the newly formed
NBC Sports Agency, patterned after the NBC
Agency that promotes all of NBCU’s TV properties,
said that with the new corporate combination,
up to 20 networks and 40 websites can
be in cross-promotional play.

He said to support Versus’ NHL All-Star
Game coverage last weekend, networks ran six
promos on Thursday (Jan. 27) and Friday (Jan.
28), while websites sported banner ads and 10-
to 15-second video promos. The aim, said Miller,
who came out of semi-retirement last November
after leading NBC marketing for 25 years to help
with the Comcast-NBCU integration, is twofold.

“We know the cross-channel targeting opportunity
enhances ratings, but we also want to
build awareness for those who might not know
about Versus,” he said. “Going forward, we’ll be
able to bring editorial opportunities
to all of [the Comcast programming]
assets as well.”

After hockey, the focus shifted
to Kourtney & Kim Take New
, whose Jan. 23 premiere
generated 3 million viewers.

Among the holdings scheduled
for upcoming cross-channel
prioritization: NBC News’s
Black History month fare; Oxygen’s
Feb. 5 Glee marathon;
The Eagle, a Focus Features theatrical that will
open on Feb. 11; and “Hockey Day in America”
on Feb. 20.

The latter encompasses a trio of regional
games and Pittsburgh-Chicago in a national
NBC window, and Versus’ coverage of the Heritage
Classic, the outdoor contest between Calgary
and Montreal.

Golf (Feb. 23-25) and NBC (Feb. 26-27) will
also share promotional and other resources
during their coverage of the World Golf Championship-
Accenture Match Play Championship.

Miller, through the NBC Sports Agency,
will lead the marketing efforts for NBC Sports,
which also includes 11 Comcast-owned regional
sports networks. The process includes on-air
identifiers indicating “part of NBC Sports” and
“powered by NBC Sports” tags.

“We haven’t had cable sports channels before,
so we certainly want to bring all these
resources together in terms of promoting properties
and programming,” he said.

Miller also noted that NBC Sports topper
Dick Ebersol has talked about raising awareness
and perhaps renaming Golf and Versus
down the road.

Meanwhile, Versus and NBC, whose NHL
rights deals expire at the end of this season, will
now negotiate as one. Versus also could get a
profile boost should NBC Sports succeed in retaining
rights to the Olympics during the next
round of bidding.