NBCUniversal kicked off this week’s marathon of upfront presentations and parties Monday morning with a two-hour, company-wide affair at Radio City Music Hall.
The presentation was long on talent from across its channel portfolio, short on executive speeches and featured appearances by everyone from Jennifer Hudson (who belted out her signature “Dreamgirls” number “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”) to Megyn Kelly to a few dozen Minions. Attendees lost count of the number of times the success of “This Is Us” was mentioned, but nobody could blame NBC for bragging about its bona fide breakout hit.
Here are 10 things we learned from NBCUniversal’s upfront:
1. The broadcast networks will be hammering away at the weakness of their digital competitors when it comes to controlling content environment for advertising. YouTube, Facebook and others have recently faced backlash from Madison Avenue for algorithm-directed spots popping up in unfortunate places. “Brand safety” were practically the first words out of NBCUniversal ad sales chief Linda Yaccarino’s mouth when she hit the stage. She also emphasized the “human touch” of old-fashioned TV blurbs. “Has a ‘view’ ever bought one of your products? Has a ‘like’ ever walked into a store?”
2. NBCUniversal learned some good lessons from last year’s inaugural portfolio-wide upfront presentation. This time around, the pitches were presented by network, as opposed to nebulous audience segments (“Dreamers,” “Rule Breakers,” etc.), which proved confusing last year. The network by network approach made for better flow.
3. The “Will & Grace” cast still has the power to charm. The familiar foursome of Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes got big applause as they were re-introduced with a musical number “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” complete with an orchestra rising through the floor to the stage. NBC’s revival of the sitcom that signed off a decade ago got the first big program plug of the presentation.
4. The Kardashians as a clan have more social media followers than the population of the U.K., Germany, France and Italy combined: 325 million, according to the breathless E! News host Zuri Hall, who introduced Kim and Khloe for a long walk across the stage. The sisters were there to introduce a clip for younger sister Kylie Jenner’s new E! show, “Life of Kylie,” in which she deals with the pressure of living up to the expectations of all those social media followers, and then some.
More Details @ Variety