Linda Yaccarino Sees NBCU Thriving Whether or Not Market Is Strong

Linda Yaccarino at 2022 NBCUniversal Upfront
NBCUniversal global chairman for advertising and partnerships Linda Yaccarino on stage at Radio City Music Hall. (Image credit: Charles Sykes/NBCUniversal)

Linda Yaccarino, global chairman for advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal, expected this to be a strong upfront for her company, regardless of how the rest of the market fares.

“We’re so big and kind of immune, more than the others, to the choppiness of the market,” Yaccarino told Broadcasting+Cable days before the start of upfront week. 

NBCU is in broadcast, cable, streaming news, English-language, Spanish-language, sports. “We’re in every market that there is to play in, so we have a unique perch and a unique relationship with our clients,” she said 

Also: NBCU Plays Up Varied Portfolio at Upfront Presentation

This upfront will be different because consumer behavior has changed, forcing marketers to change, too. 

“It is in my memory the biggest turning point in our entire industry,“ she said. “It’s actually an exciting, fascinating and complicated market to enter into. We feel like we have the permission to change everything.

Also: Upfronts 2022: TV Market Faces Big Questions as Presentations Start

Yaccarino wouldn’t say if media buyers and clients have already begun to register budgets to try to jump-start negotiations early. Despite current worries about inflation and supply chain issues, though, she noted that marketers looking ahead over the next nine to 12 months know they have product launches coming.

The smart companies “want to invest in companies that they believe in having a real rock-solid vision, great content that's supported by state-of-the-art tech, that can get you the inventory you need and prove its value and worth,” Yaccarino said.  “And for all those reasons, we are really confident as we go to the stage on Monday.”

Touting Ad-Tech Investments

NBCU has invested millions in ad tech and been a vocal leader in need for metrics that go beyond what Nielsen has provided for years. When it launched its streaming service Peacock, Yaccarino noted, it was designed in collaboration with advertisers with fewer traditional 30-second spots but 60 new formats designed to engage consumers.

Also: Peacock Pulls In $500 Million During Record NBCU Upfront

“NBC planned very aggressively to keep marketers in while other companies were pushing them out,” Yaccarino said. “Everybody was trying to chase Netflix,” which didn’t have commercials. 

“Our business case for ad-supported streaming … it’s like an affirmation of it by all the other companies who are now just jumping into the fray,“ she said. ”We got two years ahead of everybody. We’re extremely bullish.” 

“We named it wrong,” Yaccarino said of Peacock. “We should have named it ‘rocket ship’ because that’s how fast it’s growing.” 

In last year's market, she said, advertising dollars shifted from broadcast to digital and streaming. She expects this year's market to be more holistic, as opposed to looking at linear over here and digital over there.

“I feel really really proud that we have tried our hardest to figure out the best consumer experience that delivers marketers, the best thing they can choose to invest in,“ she said. ”Now all we have to arm-wrestle over is about price? That's not a hard thing to do.”

Yaccarino made many of the same comments during NBCU’s upfront presentation in Radio City Music Hall on Monday

The event was star-studded, opening with music from Kelly Clarkson and closing with Miley Cyrus.

Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and Pete Davidson took shots at Peacock and the rest of NBCU, with short-lived CNN Plus caught in the crossfire.

Reinventing Measurement

In her upfront speech,  which followed more than an hour of content announcements and clips, Yaccarino talked about all NBCU has been doing to serve advertisers, including doing some heavy lifting on measurement. “We are liberating all of you from what you all know is broken and finally breaking away from legacy, she said, taking a shot at Nielsen.

“Today, you can have every single thing you’ve ever dreamed of,” she said. “Not on a silver platter, but better yet, on a single, unified platform because responding to your needs, that’s our partnership commitment,” she said.

“The question is: are you ready to commit to this future?“ she asked. “A future where first-party data is no longer the exclusive domain of the digital platforms. A future where self-serve doesn’t have to mean second-class inventory. A future where multiple currencies deliver you massive results.

“And listen, while the rest of the industry plays catch-up or tries to force-feed your ads to consumers who never asked for them in the first place, we’re the only place that consumers can actually completely trust,“ she said. ”Where the experience delivers and the future is very, very clear. Content. Technology. Partnerships all in one place. All in one place.”

Yaccarino concluded by taking on any potential rivals.

“The rest of the industry will spend the next decade trying to become Comcast NBCUniversal because we know the future is ad-supported and our entire company is already built, top to bottom, to support you, our advertisers,” she said. ▪️

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.